The George Warren Brown School of Social Work’s desire to build community extends even into the virtual world. Using their new intranet, Inside Brown, Social Work’s students, faculty and staff can discuss research or current events, post general information or just get to know each other better.
Everyone at the Brown school has a MySite, a social networking profile that can contain photos, blog entries and other information.
Although Inside Brown is still in its infancy, it has been put to use by many.
Peter Hovmand, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work, uses Inside Brown for communicating with his classes and research team. He uses the new intranet to share documents, create workgroups, maintain lists of resources for students and colleagues and participate in discussions.
“No communications tool has worked as easily as Inside Brown,” Hovmand said. “A big advantage is that it’s easily accessible inside and outside the school and is very flexible. The ability to create workgroups on the fly is invaluable because it encourages people to work together. This is a capability that you can easily get used to.”
Doctoral candidate and instructor Henrika McCoy agrees.
“It feels like people are more aware of what is going on around the school,” McCoy said. “The MySite photos make it much easier to get to know who people are.”
McCoy uses Inside Brown to keep in contact with students in her weekend Human Diversity class and to present new information about research in the areas of mental health and juvenile delinquency to the school.
“Inside Brown helps me keep my students aware of current issues,” she said. “It’s much easier than e-mail. My students also use the site to conduct surveys for their class projects.”
The Brown School’s student leadership also has taken to the intranet. The elections for this year’s Student Coordinating Council (SCC) were held on Inside Brown.
“It was exciting to move the elections online,” said SCC member Sherrill Wayland. “For the first time, social work students who were off campus were able to vote.
“As people become more familiar with Inside Brown’s capabilities, hopefully it will foster increased community engagement,” Wayland said.
Inside Brown, which launched in August, is part of a multiphase initiative to effectively use the Web to share information with internal and external audiences. One goal is to provide students, faculty and staff with access to online tools and resources to assist in day-to-day work.