Apr 3, 2007

Online Student Center: A new way for students to network

by Kristi Kirkland, Life! Reporter
Social networking is extremely important to students today,” said Eric Hendrickson in regards to Liberty’s Online Student Center. “Anytime you can enable this kind of social networking, especially if it centers around a topic that students care about—buying and selling—you end up with a product that is sure to be used,” he said.

Hendrickson is responsible for the creation of the Online Student Center, which includes Campus Connection and LUBay. Along with project manager Lori Baker, he constructed the site after he was hired as a Web developer/programmer for Liberty in 2004. 

At the time, the university Web site had the Information Technology Resource Center (ITRC) Student Center, which had some similar features to the current Online Student Center. Hendrickson used the ITRC Student Center and input from students and staff to create the new one.

The site is a feature on the Liberty Web site, which gives students a chance to connect with other students and buy and sell items online. It is easy to use and Hendrickson said that the site has “simplicity.”

The student center has an “online marketplace” called LUBay. This feature is similar to the popular site eBay and allows students and staff to buy and sell a range of items from video game equipment to textbooks to car parts. Once a student or staff member logs in to LUBay, he or she can browse through numerous items. LUBay also has the option to search items by a listing of categories.
A majority of the items posted on LUBay are books, but there are also a number of other items listed that include cars, electronics and jewelry.

Senior Alicia Lebon has searched the LUBay site, and she and her fiancé even found some engagement rings listed. “It’s a pretty cool site overall, but I don’t think it’s updated enough,” said Lebon. She also said that it would be helpful if students would post more pictures to go along with items they are selling.

LUBay is made available to faculty and staff as well. Misty Miller, a Light Ministries staff member, is trying to sell some old DLP videos on the Web site. She posted them a few weeks ago but said they have not had any bids yet. Miller said that registering on the site was fairly simple, although she was a bit uncertain how to tag the videos, since there was no category for VHS tapes. “It might be helpful to have a category for class-related items,” said Miller.

“I do appreciate that it doesn’t charge you for listing something,” said Miller. On eBay, users have to pay a fee to register their items, but LUBay is a free service to those at Liberty interested in selling products.

Hendrickson encouraged students to not only search for items to purchase on LUBay but also to use the site to sell items. “Post items, spread the word, and be willing to look at LUBay before going to any other online store. The more you use it, the more others will too,” said Hendrickson.

The Online Student Center also has a Campus Connection feature, which allows students to search for rides home and roommates. Students can post their contact info for other students looking for rides to the same area.

Students who are searching for rides fill out a form detailing where they are traveling and when and they are able to find those offering rides to the same areas.

Campus Connection also provides a place for students to search for roommates. Most bulletin boards throughout the campus have several ads posted for those looking for roommates or living accommodations.

Campus Connection, however, gives students a simple and convenient way to post the same information. Students are able to search through listings on the site of other students of the same gender looking for roommates.

“I think with any social networking product like this, the more you put in the more you get out,” said Hendrickson.

Students can also access their ASIST/Banner accounts from the Online Student Center. The site is found at www.liberty.edu/ onlinestudentcenter.

Students and staff must login to use the features.

Contact Kristi Kirkland at kmkirkland@liberty.edu.
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