As mentioned on the Facebook newsroom earlier today, the social network is bringing more attention back to educational institutions with the new Groups for Schools feature. Specifically limiting participation to users with an active .edu email address, Facebook only wants students and faculty of each particular school to have access to the school hub page. If a student or faculty member is a member of multiple schools, they can join multiple groups by providing a valid email address for each school. However, alumni aren’t allowed to become members of the school community and students that graduate will be removed from the main group.
These community pages for each school are specifically designed to organize all groups created with said school in mind. For instance, students graduating in a specific class at a college may have their own group to discuss upcoming tests or future projects. Facebook has added tools that will allow students to share class assignments, lecture notes, updated schedules and other classroom material through the group interface.
Anyone that’s a member of the group can upload and download files located on the group page. The maximum file size is 25 MB and members of the group can find all files by clicking the Files tab at the top of the school group page. If a revised file is uploaded, both the new file and previous file will be available to download.
Facebook has tweaked the rules around messaging for the new group feature. As long as a student or professor is a member of the main school group, they can message anyone within the public sub-groups that are linked to main group. Groups are split up into three different classifications including open, closed and secret. Open groups allow anyone to join and contribute to the conversation. Closed groups allows others to see who is a member of the group, but membership requires admin approval. Secret groups are hidden from public view and only members can see other members.
At this time, Facebook hasn’t included a way to link all existing school groups to the main community page that was created by the new Groups for Schools feature. Students and faculty will have to create entirely new groups in order to link them to the community hub page.
In order to create a new group linked to the community page, users can click the “+ Create Group” button on the main school page and go through the standard group setup process. After clicking the “+ Add People from school” button on the new group page, users can add students and faculty members from their friend’s list.
Word of warning, abandoning a school community will remove the user from all related groups included within that community. If a user decides to rejoin the community at a later time, they will have to rejoin all previous groups manually. While plenty of students have used the groups feature to organize classmates for many years, the launch of Groups for Schools is the first time that Facebook has made a significant attempt to formalize the organization of all groups related to a particular school.