05/02/2012 10:32 am ET

Facebook Launches Groups For Schools, Restricted To College Students And Faculty

Facebook is going old school, or perhaps more accurately, it's going back to school.

Facebook recently launched Groups for Schools, a new platform meant to spur student collaboration. It's available only for those with an .edu email address, so high school students, alumni and community members will all be excluded.

The hope is that Groups for Schools will create hubs for campus activity. Students can establish groups within the confines of their university's group on Facebook that only students and faculty at their universities can access. Students could collaborate on class assignments, communicate with their dorms or student clubs or start a new clubs with other students on their campuses.

File sharing is also possible, but don't expect Groups for Schools to become the new hot spot for passing around copies of movies and music. The files are limited to 25 MB and meant more as a way to share text files -- such as class notes or flyers.

Groups for Schools competes with web applications schools currently pay thousands of dollars to use, like Blackboard and Inigral, according to Mashable.

Of course, Facebook was only open to college students before expanding to all ages. Now the site boasts 901 million active users.

A Facebook spokesperson told HuffPost College that the new feature grew from how visitors already used the site.

"Groups have been a part of Facebook since its early days, but they weren't always strong collaboration tools," the company said in a statement. "A couple years ago, we re-launched Groups to focus more on communicating with smaller sets of people: your soccer team, your book club, etc. As people started using these new groups, some of the most popular types of groups were from students."

Facebook hinted at expanding the feature beyond college campuses, but for now, it will stick with schools. Michael Novati, an engineer at Facebook, wrote in an announcement on its website that Groups for Schools is still rolling out.



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