One thing we need to do is build up a bit of a community between all the participants. Since all our students and mentorees are working on widely different projects, there isn't alot of social common ground. Finding icebreakers and neutral conversation points will help create a better community between the mentors and the students. This will also encourage better cultural awareness from the students from different backgrounds.
If we get the students on the platform right after they are accepted, it can be a great tool to help in the community bonding process. We could have an open space where other community members can join and 'meet the new students'.
Platform requirements and suggestions:
- Low Bandwidth
- Both Real Time and Stored communication
- English - we all assume the participants have some base level of english skills
- Free Software
- Source Code can be fixed by the students, increase a sense of ownership
- Ice breakers and other catches to keep the conversation moving
- Incentives to encourage usage at least once a week
- Continue to be open after the summer so that students can check up on each other socially.
We may also want to encourage integration with other social networking platforms. Remember, this is where all the cool kids hang out.