Elgg allows you to create and customize your own social networking site. User blogs, forums, file repository, friends, activity feeds, bookmarking, messaging, plus a host of other features allow you to create your own Facebook-like site. Except you host it yourself giving you complete control.
This is a significant release bringing with it a multitude of enhancements over what is now called Classic Elgg. It supports all the common protocols of interoperability for social networking sites including OpenDD, OpenID and OpenSocial.
Classic Elgg, when used with the excellent Folio plug-in, is still a great solution for an eportfolio system, with the added addition of social networking built in. (This feature is missing from the WordPress MU that we are currently using, but projects like BuddyPress are currently being developed to remedy this).
The blend of eportfolios and social networking seamlessly allows friend or peer feedback and assessment to take place on learning artifacts that are shared with other users, or alternatively made public for others to comment on.
When selecting a solution for our eportfolio requirements, Elgg rated very highly. It did not become the favoured option above WordPress MU, for the reasons noted here in my research notes:
An excellent application with all the features required to effectivly create a learning portfolio (when using the Folio plugin). Has the additonal benefit of the social networking environment to facilitate learning conversations between learners. The support is poor and the documentation virtually nonexistant. Also some examples of learning such as podcasts, could not be embedded in the pages only a link could be provided for downloading the file. With more support and documentation, this product would be very hard to beat.
I really look forward to Elgg 1.0 being developed further. Hopefully we can look forward to some fantastic plug-ins being developed to fill in the gaps of the developers and make the software more suited to a wider range of applications. I say this from an eportfolio perspective! The developers have created a fantastic product and if I were looking for just a social networking platform, then it would suite me very nicely.
Why not try it out on the demo site to give you an idea.