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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Study groups move online, attract students worldwide by Laura Diamond

Some college students studying chemistry recently gathered to share notes, swap strategies and provide moral support.

This scene is played out at college campuses across the country but this one is different. It's not happening in a library or coffee house. It's happening online through a site called OpenStudy.

It's a world-wide network of more than 350 study groups that students can join regardless of where they live or go to school. One particular group was designed for students studying chemistry at Georgia Perimeter College. Users received help from classmates at the college's different campuses and from students as far away as Istanbul.

"We connect students online because that is how they spend their lives," said Preetha Ram, an associate dean at Emory University and one of the site's creators. "This is what the Millennials want."

The free site went live a couple of months ago but was founded in 2007 by a team led by Ram, her husband, Georgia Tech professor Ashwin Ram, and one of their former students. The company is based out of the Advanced Technology Development Center on Tech Square in midtown Atlanta. Most of the employees and student interns have ties to Georgia Tech.

"We are empowering the student community to take care of itself," said Ashwin Ram, a professor in Georgia Tech's College of Computing. "We believe that students can teach one another. Our site shows the power of peer-to-peer learning."

About 12,000 people from 150 countries and territories use the site. The average student is in his or her mid-20s, but participants range from middle school students to senior citizens, organizers said.

Online Study Group
OpenStudy is a free online social learning network made up of more than 350 study groups that attract more than 12,000 people around the world.
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How It Works

About OpenStudy
OpenStudy is a social learning network where students ask questions, give help, and connect with other students studying the same things. Our mission is to make the world one large study group, regardless of school, location, or background.

OpenStudy uses AI recommendation engines to match students, and really real-time technologies to facilitate online interaction. It’s like walking into a library or coffee shop and finding just the right group of students who can help you with what you’re studying right now or someone struggling with a problem who could really use your help…halfway across the globe.

OpenStudy was founded in 2007 by Ashwin Ram, a Georgia Tech professor, Preetha Ram, an Emory University dean, and their former student and CTO Chris Sprague who returned to Atlanta after a stint in the Valley. They were joined by serial entrepreneur and now CEO, Phil Hill, along with a team of smart students from Georgia Tech and Emory who, after feeling your pain, devoted the last two years of their lives making your study experience less lonely and more productive.

OpenStudy is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Georgia Research Alliance. We’re located at Georgia Tech’s ATDC Center in Technology Square, Midtown Atlanta.

Like any successful startup, we work hard, have fun, and believe in what we do. We invite you to use us, join us, and spread the word. We want to change the way the world learns, and we’d love to have you be part of it.

Source: Atlanta News