April 24, 2020

Polinode is Now Free for Classroom Use

Andrew Pitts

When I first started Polinode back in 2013 I couldn’t have possibly imagined all of the various use cases that our community would find for our integrated network analysis tool. At the time I could see that there was very much a need for a web-based tool for organizational network analysis and that is why Polinode was built. One of the areas that has surprised me though has been the demand from academics who have used Polinode in both teaching and research. With the benefit of hindsight it makes sense - a tool that doesn’t require any software installation and includes all of the core network analysis metrics makes a lot of sense for teaching network analysis. And so it is that a range of universities have used Polinode - from Yale and Columbia in the United States through to the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology in Sydney to name a few. Sometimes paid accounts have been used and at other times free accounts with the limitations that that has implied.

Well, I’m pleased to announce today that we are making the full suite of Polinode functionality available for free for classroom use. This includes the ability to:

  1. Upload both public and private networks; Run all of our Basic and Advanced metrics - there are now 33 in total, including PageRank, Betweenness centrality and Louvain Community Detection;  
  2. Run and save network layouts and save up to 50 different views per interactive network;
  3. Run relationship-based surveys, i.e. to collect network data and immediately generate interactive networks; and
  4. A lot more….if you haven’t used Polinode before you may find our four tutorial videos instructive.                

Why are we doing this? Primarily because we believe there is still a lot more scope for teaching and applying network analysis and we want to make it easier and more accessible, easier and more accessible for both professors / lecturers and for students. We have also noticed that there are quite a few new or relatively new People Analytics courses of late and we are particularly keen to see organizational network analysis taught within these courses. There is so much value to be had in that for People Analytics practitioners. Of course, there are many other domains where network analysis is taught, including social network analysis, ecology, data analytics, etc. and we are very happy to see courses in these areas use Polinode as well.

How will it work? It’s simple, for any course that is interested in using Polinode please email info@polinode.com with the name of the course. All that is required is:

  1. That it is an accredited educational institution;  
  2. There are between 5 and 250 students in the course (we may make exceptions to this on a case-by-case basis); and
  3. All of the students have and use their educational emails.  

We will then provision the course convenor or similar as the owner of an organization account so that they can provision and manage accounts for the students. All student accounts should be de-provisioned by the same person within 2 weeks of the end of the course. It’s that easy!

There are a couple of other points worth noting here. We have also decided to include at no charge enough respondent credits to run a relationship-based survey within the course. In the past a handful of professors have used that approach (anonymizing the data before sharing it with the students) to help teach network analysis and engage students. That is to say, they have run a relationship-based survey using Polinode on the class itself, asking about advice and friendship networks for example. We think that is a great idea and would like to encourage it! The second point worth noting is that we are including our organization management functionality here so that a professor can share private networks with the class and the students can share networks with each other (or the professor). If an assignment or similar needs to be submitted then it’s easy to do so using that functionality.

If this is relevant to you or may be in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at info@polinode.com. You can also email us with any questions you may have or just add those questions in the comments below.  

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