ON-LINE STUDY GROUP: One model; student driven; anyone else doing similar?

Published On October 15, 2010 | By ED | News

It seems there’s a whole bunch of interest in online study groups happening with the student posse at the moment so thought I’d bump this post up the top of the Insiders’ Guide FYI!

I was chatting to Bec (one of our science students based in Adelaide) who mentioned she (and a few others) had formed an online study group for particular Units resulting in everyone getting either a D or HD for the subject … nice! I asked her to give us a rundown of what they were doing, how it worked etc. Anyone else got something similar happening? Let us know via Comments on the post. (Thanks Bec).

The first one we did was just an email group, we’d email each other with questions and whoever got to it first answered. That worked well, there were only about 5 of us in that group and it was quite personal probably because of the medium. We compared assignments and either helped each other or agreed to disagree. Any external help any of us received we shared etc. We all got either Ds or HDs for that subject.

This semester I started a facebook page, that has worked well but it’s not as personal, again there are about 5-6 of us that actively participate but it’s a great medium to just ask questions as someone always pops in and answers. The problem I found with this is you do not get notification if you start a new topic, and unless the group participants seek it out they don’t know what discussions are going on. Email was much more ‘in your face’.  So I suppose nothing is perfect yet, I suggested Google Wave but its not quite right either.  Mind you, this topic’s Blackboard and Lecturers have been more helpful too so we didnt need to rely on each other as much as last semester.

I think email was more successful and we still use email even with the FB page. I’d even set up a Yahoo email group if need be. I’m finding that you only need a few study buddies to swop and compare and discuss things with, they can mean the difference between a 75% or a 90% for assignments.

Its a work in progress though, I’m planning on doing it for every subject that has worked assignments too.  I dont know if being assigned study groups would work all the time but I’ve noticed as soon as you become actively involved in discussions on a Blackboard you get bombarded with emails from all the other students asking for help…… so surely it wouldnt hurt to try it??

cheers, Bec

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23 Responses to ON-LINE STUDY GROUP: One model; student driven; anyone else doing similar?

  1. Jade says:

    This is a fantastic idea. I ‘meet’ up with a lot of students on MSN etc, but I think to have an email, or a facebook group for solely questions regarding that subject would be wonderful.

    I think keeping it relatively small (I’d say under 10) would probably help. Then you aren’t getting too many people.

    I love the idea of a yahoo group – as I know a lot of students have deleted their FB account due to it being too easy to procrastinate. Yahoo you can select to have it sent directly to your email address so you will know when there are questions/answers.

    Just a question for Bec – how did you get the people? Was it just people you have met, or did you post on blackboard to see if anyone would be interested etc?

    I feel sometihng like that would help to keep me on track. Means that I’m a bit more accountable.

    (Sorry for the essay!!)

  2. Susan Mundy says:

    I agree…what a great idea! I’m going to try and organise something like this next semester for my units…but it will be interesting to see if there are any takers.

  3. Ian says:

    I am part of the study group Bec did on fb and it is an excellent resource . i did the same sort of thing with stat100 as well and it was really quite good .
    i am keen to do the same for all units , it helps greatly and you get peer reviews which is a difficult thing when external

  4. kath says:

    Wouldn’t comparing assignments be classed as cheating? I know that in class, lecturers know which of us are in the same college and go to particular effort to see if we have got together and done assignments together who then penalise us for cheating and participating in group work for individual assignments.

  5. Jade says:

    I think reviewing other’s assignments and having someone help with editing, wording etc is very different to doing group work for individual assignments.

  6. irene says:

    what an amazing resource! i’ll be giving that a go for my next set of units… thanks for the tip.

    i know black board is supposed to be a portal for this kind of stuff, but it is so counter-intuitive. using the social networking sites makes heaps more sense.

  7. Ian says:

    I do not think it is in anyway a form of cheating . there is certainly a risk that someone will use your work , but we have found that everyone contributes in a certain way, besides if someone does cheat then they are only cheating themselves and not learning anything .
    Like Jade said editing, wording, proofreading is very different . we also give opinion on how we may have done something differently .
    for subjects like chemistry/maths/stats it is extremely useful . We can compare how we chose or used a formula and see where one or many of us have gone wrong .
    in the end it is up to the individual on what they submit . You only get what you put in when it comes to an education
    as mentioned in an earlier post, being an external is difficult as you do not get the chance to have your peers review your work . this is one platform where we can do so and which helps all involved

  8. Bec Williams says:

    Hi Jade, the first group started a bit by default- we had no help at all from our lecturer and it was a topic I was familiar with (maths) so when I started helping on blackboard I received email requesting more help with specifics. I tried to set up a study group on the blackboard chat but it didnt work well, so it just turned into a little email ring, and ppl were welcome to join if they were willing to put in as much as they got out of it. (if that makes sense). The fb one for this semester started because I put up a notification at the beginning of the semester in Blackboard asking if anyone was interested in joining an online study group and it seemed other people had the same idea anyway. (Hi Ian!) Its been a great way to get to know ppl in your course before res. school etc too. 🙂

    Kath, I understand this concern about cheating and it has been something we have been careful to avoid. What we do is we do our own assignments and any questions/equations we have problems with we discuss. Comparing assignments once we finish has really helped, and often we just agree to disagree on the final result. The idea behind an assignment question is to make sure we understand the process and arrive at it in our own way, so we want to make sure we have that down pat because there is always an exam at the end! None of us have ever cheated. I see it to be just the same as if you were in a study group *in real life* and asking each other questions on tricky parts, which is what you’d be doing as an internal student in the tut sessions etc.

    Most of these assignments too are equation based (Im talking chem and maths here) so its easy to help each other and understand where you are going wrong. We dont do this type of thing with essays etc, and we never help each other out with questions that need an explanation.

    Hope that helps!


  9. Bec Williams says:

    PS Our assignments always look different too! Our chem lecturer is aware of what we are doing this semester and thinks we have a great thing going. 🙂

  10. Jade says:

    Bec – that’s great! I might try and do a similar thing next year. I’m doing an education degree and find that peer reviews can give you so much new information!

    I agree that it’s similar to a tutorial etc, figure as external students we are behind the eight ball in a sense because we dont get that personal communication that on campus students do.

    How many are in the study group? Do you think there’s a max number you would go to?

  11. Foreign Language Student says:

    I have been using Skype with fellow students to study and find this wonderful. We have found it works best when we agree beforehand specifically what we are going to tackle. We do not get responses from our lecturer or they are not timely whether it be by email, phone or blackboard. Support therefore has to come from other students. Skype I have only done 1 to 1 at this stage and that seems to work well.

  12. Bec Williams says:

    Hi Jade,

    Study groups have only been really small, with this semester its been a bit spasmodic purely because of the medium of a fb page… the harder assignments have had more participants! 🙂 But Ive always had at least two other students to bounce things off. I dont think they should be too big, the smaller the better in my opinion……… then everyone can have an input and you get to know each other a little which is nice. After all it can get a bit lonely studying externally sometimes! Id really encourage you to put something on the blackboard next semester early on in your unit, and even if you only get two people saying yes please then it should work really well. 🙂 Good luck!

    Skype sounds great too, we need to take a bit of initiative as external students I think….. we do miss out on the *normal* uni experience. 🙂

  13. Jade says:

    I’m tossing up even setting up a facebook page just for UNE students to post their interest in setting up a study group – that way like minded people can then join up.

    But I guess that blackboard will work just as well in the sense that it’ll go to everyone in the unit, even those that don’t use facebook.

  14. Foreign Language Student says:

    Has anybody tried Google Wave for online study groups? I would appreciate your thoughts on it for this purpose.

  15. Noriko Wynn says:

    The new group on FB could be a useful way to have online study groups, there’s a group chat function, sharing documents and messaging.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I would be very interested in participating in such a group if it is in my subject areas of history and latin 🙂

  17. Hannah says:


    Which year are you for latin? I’m first year external in Perth, and would like to chat to someone about it!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Hannah!

    This will be my second year of uni but my first of Latin. I am doing CLLA101 and CLLA102 this year.

  19. Marc says:

    I would just like to see greater participation by everyone – lecturers and students alike – in the fora provided. Learning Latin is difficult enough but when feedback is weeks away, you tend to forget why you were so mixed up about a particular problem by the time it’s answered. The forum is there, I say use it, or miss out on its benefits. There should be no need to reinvent the wheel.

    MSN: homercycles@hotmail.remove.me.com
    Twitter: @mfearby

  20. Katie says:

    Hi Hannah,

    I’m doing classical languages 101 this semester. Is that you too?
    I’m looking forward to it!

    Hopefully see you on blackboard. Feel free to email me: kcarasco@une.edu.au


  21. Angela says:

    I would also be extremely interested in participating in a study group for German or Italian. 🙂

  22. Staci says:

    This really is a little something I must find more information about, i appreciate you for the post.

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