The internet has been a platform for individuals, groups of people and companies to interact with one another through the social media. The social media has truly aided interaction and even other business services through social networks, forums, blogs, etc. Forums are now been used as tools/platforms to create discussions, connect to people (mostly of similar interests) and as sources of relevant information. This work intends to make use of forums as tools in helping prospective university students to make the right decisions about their choice of career, choice of environment, etc.
Based on an in-depth review of some relevant literatures, some key requirements have been considered in the development of a suitable web application. This online forum will be developed for students to cater for some of their needs and solve some of the issues they face with their choice of career, their course of study, the accessibility of relevant information about any institution, etc.
1.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Communication is a basic human need and for that reason, man has always found a means of meeting this need. The media, which is an umbrella term for various means of communication, has become an integral part of human life around the world. The earliest forms of personal media, speech and gestures, had the benefit of being easy to use and did not necessarily need complex technology (Idakwo, 2011).
Through the social media, the internet community has drastically increased over the years. The social media has become a significant part of today’s modern civilization. It is a defining trait of how integrated social interactions have become. The impact of the social media have been seen in basically five different contexts; news, interactions, political landscapes, learning and marketing (Guha, 2013).
With over 80 percent of teen Internet users frequenting social media sites, it’s no wonder the real world social lives are seeing some changes. Social media is definitely changing the way people communicate, but in many ways it’s for the better as we expand our social circles and explore new horizons through our online connections (Chopra, 2013).
Every age it has passed through has been based on beliefs and new technologies, responding to the needs of individuals anxious to adjust to new forms of socialization. A time of great change is a period in which society looks for meaning. Information is already a tool, the principal tool, which people use to perceive and understand their environment (Idakwo, 2011).
The emergence of online forums has become hugely popular in recent times with interactions based on similar discussions, posts and threads (Xiaolin, et al., 2009) (Sumit & Prasenjit, 2010). Online forums have become powerful tools for sharing information (Bedmar, 2010). Online discussion forums have also become one of the most popular places to ask and answer questions (Falls, 2012).
Online Forums, compared to the other social media sites, have various unique features like threads; where discussions and posts are made, RSS feeds, polls, etc. Online Forums, provide a unique type of social environment that enables people to share and access information freely. Users can either start new topics or leave comments in the threads of existing topics (Xiaolin, et al., 2009).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Prospective students of an institution (the University) have had issues in the past when it comes to selecting careers, choosing their course of study and indecisions about the right school to apply for (Ogu, 2008) (Orndorff & Herr, 1996). However, to solve these problems, a platform needs to be created where these students can relate with others who can answer these questions. Consequently, relevant requirements have to be taken into consideration in the development of a web application to solve these problems stated above.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
To develop a web/online platform where students can share different questions or views on various topics and majorly make information about any institution accessible. This will be achieved through the following objectives:
- Gathering the right requirements for this application.
- Modeling the requirements gathered using a Unified Modeling Language (UML).
- Implementing the system by creating a user-friendly platform that will be easier for these students to interact with each other and ask questions using threads and topics.
1.4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The research work will be conducted by using different sources of relevant data for research like online surveys, journals, books and reviews of relevant literature. The requirements needed for the development of this application will be gotten by a review of existing systems. A platform where users who will reply to the questions from other users or provide any form of information will be created by some ‘question and answer’ techniques to solve the problems stated above successfully. The online forum will also be designed showing all the different functions that will be performed by using UML diagrams like use cases, class diagrams, etc. The implementation of the web application can now be done by making use of the design diagrams and programming will be done with PHP and the database management will be done by MySQL database taking a clue from existing forum softwares. The system will later on be evaluated by making use of feedbacks and reports from relevant users.