By: Jakub Piwnik
We share pictures of our food. We let everyone know where we spend our weekends. We’ve given an online dimension to almost every aspect of our lives. Social Learning Networks now do the same to homework.
Searching for the most hated things on the web, you may expect to find a long list of our world’s problems. The first place however usually goes to school. And more precisely to what comes after. And that is homework. Try to find a high school student who can’t wait to get home after school and sit down to do the assignment for the next day’s Math class. Sounds unreal? Maybe. But this isn’t the first time when the new technologies would make something that seems unreal come true.
It’s easy pointing out the shortcomings of our education systems. Not many are so eager to find and apply a solution. Many educators fear that the development of social media will have a negative impact on the education of young people. But then people were afraid that the emails will stop people from being able to handwrite, which hasn’t happened.
Students should be directed to reliable sources, because getting essay ideas from Wikipedia or answers to a test from a Facebook group is not necessarily the tried-and-true way to go. But fear not, there are plenty of options to choose from. Teachers’ blogs, online courses and trustworthy knowledge sources. As for the practice, the peer support social networks provide the solution. An example is Brainly.
This global social learning network embraces the idea of using new technologies in education. With successful local versions of the platform in Europe, Asia and South America, the launch of Brainly.com, the social network’s English version, introduces the concept to American students. Additionally to its peer-to-peer platform, Brainly gets involved in educational initiatives. Brainly CEO Michał Borkowski explains: “Our vision is to see students from all over the world benefiting from our educational peer support system.” The launch of Brainly.com, the company’s new English version, coincides with the release of mobile applications for iOS and Android.
An educational website lets its users solve their school problems and homework. And how exactly does that all of the sudden make the students love helping others? That’s the amazing fact about peer support and online collaboration. After introducing the concept to more and more countries around the world, we’ve noticed that as soon as users get engaged in the community they become more and more involved. The gamification elements we applied make solving tasks and explaining difficult subjects fun.
Brianly.com introduced a system of points. In order to ask a question users must spend some of them. For start, each new user gets a fixed amount of points, but as they use the platform, they run out of them. Problem? Not at all. Now they need to engage more and start helping others. This way the community stays forever active.
Of course every student uses the site differently. There are those who only answer questions to get points. On the other hand, some users mostly enjoy helping others and at the same time practice their favorite school subjects and get a “teaching experience”. For those most active and effective (on Brainly the quality of answers is what counts!) we’ve got special rankings. This way we introduce a bit of a “competing experience” to the process of studying.
Brainly brings together over 20 million unique users every month. It’s most popular among European students. In Russia only there are over 10 million unique users monthly. But the new countries where we launched enjoy the concept as well. Every week we’re breaking user count records in Indonesia and Romania. Now the English version is growing too, letting the American and other English speaking pupils profit from the benefits of social learning.
We’re happy to see how the concept works all over the globe and how young minds from all corners of the world begin to engage in the learning community. The important thing is that Brainly is not just another Q&A website. We pay a lot of attention to the educational nature of our content. Over 300 volunteer moderators (students, teachers, parents, PhDs, professors, specialists) continuously supervise the genuineness of the answers and explanations published. And last but not least, using the platform is free, which is always quite convincing.
Traditional education is important and we understand its significance. Still, it has many shortcomings and may not be ideal for all of the students. Brainly takes what’s best in offline student collaboration and brings it to the online space, where all users, regardless of their language, nationality, age or anything else, can exchange knowledge and skills. You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf. Whatever we do, it’s somewhat unlikely that the students won’t use new technologies in their education. Perhaps the point is rather to get them to use the right ones.