Online Study Groups
We’re all familiar with what a college study group looks like, right? Often you meet with a few other students from one of your classes and study for a bit in the library. Maybe one of you shows up late. Another one keeps checking his cell phone and texting his friends. Someone brings pizza and so everyone takes a break to eat. Then, it’s suddenly two in the morning and you can’t understand your notes any longer. Finally, everyone leaves and goes to sleep, knowing they only have a few minutes to cram in the morning before the exam.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. You could easily stay in your comfortable dorm room or sit by yourself in a quiet part of the library and participate in an online study group. Online study groups, if done well, can eliminate a lot of the drama that accompanies the physical gathering of a study group. Each participant can put into the group as much or as little effort without physically annoying other group members, though they should still be responsible for their part of the group work. Rather, the point is that by being able to connect from many locations, the group wouldn’t have to deal with the greater logistics and can focus on the content of the study.
In order to deliver this content, however, the group will have to rely on social media and communication technology. This comes with its own problems, but in general the advantages are greater. Group members can collaborate on a private blog to write responses to study questions. Group members can discuss in real-time via chat programs; these programs will often allow you to chat with multiple users. And finally, group members can use a file sharing service to access and share important course materials, like syllabi and study guides, to help them prepare their work.
Online study groups do have their troubles, certainly, so group members should keep in mind that solely relying upon an online group could be as limiting as relying on physical group meetings. The best sort of study group is one that stays together throughout the semester, combining both physical and online meetings, with many of their resources staying online for easy access. The best sorts of study groups maintain connections between members. Online work is one way to do this.