‘Facebook of studying’ offers students online forum

Jennie Kushner

The Facebook of studying has now been invented.

OpenStudy.com is a community forum for students worldwide to post class-related questions.

The website uses real-time technologies to facilitate online interaction, marketing manager John Birdsong said.

“People have said we are like the Facebook of studying and that can be viewed as good and bad,” he said. “You can build relationships around people studying the same material and you can get help from people you aren’t friends with on Facebook or that you follow on Twitter.”

Once a question is posted, it can be answered immediately.

“It can be used as a walking stick or as a crutch,” Birdsong said. “Those who rely on OpenStudy to get answers rather than learn the material will be affected in the long run.”

Birdsong said OpenStudy could facilitate cheating.

“There is that scenario,” he said. “If a student wants to cheat, they are going to cheat. There is the capability to do it on OpenStudy.”

Ashwin Ram, a Georgia Tech professor, Preetha Ram, an Emory University dean, and former student Chris Sprague, created OpenStudy in 2007.

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Georgia Research Alliance currently fund OpenStudy.

There are about 3,500 users.

Birdsong said his brother, a student at the University of Georgia, posted a question on OpenStudy a few days ago and a student in Turkey answered it within minutes.

“If you want to get help, now there is a community to help you,” he said. “If a student doesn’t know someone in their class and they’re stuck, come to OpenStudy and get real-time help right now.”

Birdsong said similar websites like Koofers.com and Studyblue.com are different from OpenStudy.

“All of those sites are based around the content, OpenStudy is based around the community,” he said. “We want to match you with other people to get you answers quickly.”

Birdsong said OpenStudy will redefine the concept of school.

“Anyone can answer the questions, and you could have a professor or a genius high school student,” Birdsong said. “We view the world as one big study group.”

Students say OpenStudy is much needed.

“It’s great to be able to simply sign up online, ask a question and have several people around the world answer it,” said Thomas Smith, a freshman majoring in business. “Sometimes it’s hard for teachers to answer immediately, and when you have a test at 8 a.m. and your studying late, it’s perfect to get that question answered.”

“I think this website is a great idea, however, it makes me nervous because it could be considered cheating,” said Sara Foy, a junior majoring in public relations. “I think this website should be used only to ask general questions, not specific, because I won’t want to get in trouble.”