If you’ve ever experienced a successful online classroom environment, then you’ll know that the right mix of online course material and interaction with peers is what keeps the class motivated and achieving results. What OpenStudy is doing is working on the latter part of the mix. In theory, the students may learn in their real-life classrooms or working with online course material. But if the peers are interacting, they’ll share known resources with each other. It’s the other side of learning.
OpenStudy is a collection of study groups based on topic. Some are broad topics such as “History”, while other topics are centred around specific courses, such as those in MIT’s Open Courseware. Essentially, OpenStudy facilitates the communication between all students interested in the subject matter. It’s an ideal way to meet your peers from all corners of the world.
Anyone over 13 can join OpenStudy, so it’s perfect for both high school teenagers or adults completing further education. To sign up, you can either create a login or just use your Facebook account. Either method is quick and easy, so it’s your choice.
Using OpenStudy Study Groups
The study groups are open to all ages and levels of study, so there’s no segregation between those studying at high school level and those doing tertiary study. This can work both to help or hinder students, depending on the group.
Take a look at two of the most popular groups - Mathematics and Writing and English. The former is straightforward, but the latter is a mix of English Literature study and people learning English as a Second Language. There’s no way to separate the two interpretations of the group yet, but as the site expands it may need to consider such things.
Each study group allows users to post questions or to answer other people’s questions. It’s easy to browse through the latest questions, unanswered questions or to refer to your own questions.
Users are ranked in each group according to how many questions they’ve answered, thus adding a sort of friendly social competition and hierarchy element. Group chat is also available to make conversation easier.
Concerns With OpenStudy
My biggest concern with OpenStudy is that with its “latest question” focused model you are unable to have in-depth discussions on important topics, such as you might find on a forum. The question model would suffice to offer this if there were a way of perusing the best questions or the most-answered questions. The group questions could also benefit from the use of a tagging system to allow people to browse the most relevant questions and answers.
Also, the Mathematics group shows how many students will just use the system to get answers for homework they can’t do. Many students are simply typing out their homework questions and while that’s good practise for other students, it’s not really helping the people asking the questions. It would be nice to be able to ignore those questions and focus on the ones asked by someone who is truly trying to understand how something works.
Despite these concerns though, it seems OpenStudy has a bright future. No doubt they’ll implement new sorting mechanisms and features as the site grows further.
While you’re here, you’ll probably also want to check out these study-related articles:
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- 3 Great Online Tools to Improve Study Skills & Get Better Grades
- 6 Top Reference Sites to Write a Winning Research Paper
- 6 Really Good Sites with FREE Video Lectures from Top US Colleges
Have you tried OpenStudy? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments!