Can Studying be Social?

3 Dec

Did you know that students spend more time on Social Networks than e-mail or web-searches? Social Media has recently been harnessed to help foster online learning, but can we engage with academia in a social way?

Nowadays, a significant part of the student experience is broadcast upon social networks, this can take the form of information about upcoming events, pictures from your friends’ parties and status updates about lectures.

Almost inseparable from real life interactions at university, social networks are a parallel stream which serve to report on our daily routines, even if a user doesn’t contribute material directly – buttons which allow rating and sharing content add an addictive layer of ‘social’ participation.

 This layer of activity has become a cultural phenomenon online, it intrigues academics into exploring its other applications, some have speculated and others have started to implement the possibilities of taking the positive aspects of the social web into learning environments.

Since most people will be switching between Wikipedia and Twitter within the same web browser, why not combine the study and social experience into a single platform? Well this is precisely what OpenStudy is experimenting with, their chief executive outlines their goal:

“To make the world one big Study Group”

That’s quite a lot to ask for, in attempting this OpenStudy’s platform tackles academic learning head-on with a question and answer format which rates those people who are the most helpful. This social outlook on the traditional study group mimics current user behavior online by making questions appear like Tweets and by adding notifications similar to Facebook.

As conventional lectures lack the interactions which take place online, there certainly is a demand for more ways in education to present and feedback information using new media technologies. There is a sense of community and personal gratification created if one student can find a new friend online to exchange ideas within a social setting.

Though with this said, one possible draw back is the problem with students trusting the advice of their peers over institutions, inadvertently gaining inaccurate information.

Interactive media definitely occupies our time but it’s real triumph with be in stimulating our minds to make learning more adaptable and participatory.

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