Connect past, current and future students
An online community for Holmesglen Institute
Holmesglen is an Open Social online community for the Holmesglen Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
This community platform allows Holmesglen Institute to amplify its on- and off-campus community engagement activities and provide students with a communal space to connect and build relationships with alumni and prospective students.
“We want students to feel that this is their space to ask questions, form study or social groups, and share placement experiences.”
– Tanima Haque, Social Media Manager for Holmesglen
Holmesglen Institute’s Challenges
Transitioning from on-campus to online community
Creating a virtual campus
Holmesglen Institute already had a strong sense of community and a whole roster of on-campus community engagement activities to boast with. However, their on-campus community activities had very limited online presence.
Holmesglen Institute started looking for a solution to transfer their hallmark Holmesglen sense of community to an engaging online space. This would allow them to effectively:
- Amplify their current community engagement activities online
- Increase their community engagement reach beyond the campus
- Engage not only on-campus students, but also prospective international students and alumni
Creating a space for students to call home
Holmesglen Institute didn’t want to use existing social media channels such as Facebook to create their online community. On Facebook, ads and distracting promoted content would too easily override student voices.
Holmesglen Institute needed to find a solution that would give students a sense of belonging and ownership. The community should let students feel like they belong, while also giving international students, prospects and alumni a way to connect and feel part of the community.
Creating a safe space for speech
Holmesglen Institute wanted their online community to be as open as possible by giving students a space for free expression.
However, with free speech comes a lot of responsibility! Holmesglen Institute needed to ensure that they would be able to protect students from possibly abusive or offensive content.
The challenge faced was thus:
How do you create an online space that is open and free, but where you can also effectively moderate content posted within the community?
Open Social’s Solution
Holmesglen Online Community
Creating a beta community
When Holmesglen Institute chose Open Social as its online community platform, they decided to create a small beta-community first.
For this beta-community, Holmesglen invited students to work on the project with them. Doing this allowed Holmesglen Institute to:
- Test their online community ideas with actual students
- Ensure that the community reflects the needs of students
- Refine their community engagement strategy for an online space
- Collect valuable feedback from their beta-community members
- Populate the community with content before its launch
- Create on-campus buzz about the community before its launch
As a result of this test, Holmesglen Institute was able to eventually launch an online community that perfectly matched their existing on-campus sense of community.
Fostering an open community
With Open Social, Holmesglen Institute created an online space that students could truly make their own.
Now, using Open Social’s unique community features, on-campus students have a place to interact and engage with one another while also keeping the community open and accessible to international students and alumni.
Groups for different members
Through creating topic-related groups, Holmesglen offers unique spaces for different types of community members to congregate and connect.
Events to bring members together
Holmesglen engages members of different groups through hosting online and on-location events using the Events feature.
Students are able to create their own community content, including blog posts. This allows students to express themselves within the community, while also sharing their on-campus experiences with international students, prospects and alumni.
A community moderated by students
Holmesglen sponsored the development of the community reporting feature on Open Social. This feature allows members of the Holmesglen online community to report any inappropriate, abusive, or spam content to the community manager.
The community manager can then easily moderate, remove or reinstate flagged content from a content overview panel in their dashboard.
By letting the students take responsibility for keeping their own community platform safe, Holmesglen Institute is able to keep the platform open to all forms of expression, while keeping it free from abusive content.
This feature also helps members develop a sense of shared ownership of their community.
Holmesglen beta-community launches. 70 people are invited.
The beta-community is deemed a success with high-levels community engagement!
Holmesglen sponsors the development of the community reporting feature.
The Holmesglen community goes live. Membership doubles after the first outreach campaign.
Major increase to over 2,000 members.
Students start to actively create their own groups that suit their interests.
Holmesglen’s online community becomes part of orientation week in which current students reach out to new students to join the platform.
Holmesglen Institute sponsors the development of adding multiple images on a post and creating image albums.
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