CNN Chalk Talk: A new website called OpenStudy allows students to share resources and learn with one another from all over the world.
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Read the transcript: CNN Chalk Talk, October 1, 2010
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, coming up, calling all college students. There’s now a group online that allows you to study in a unique way. You can get help from across the globe. You don’t even need a passport.
HOLMES: Well, we turn to “Chalk Talk” today, now.
We are checking out a new study group that’s geared toward helping college students succeed. It’s an online study group called OpenStudy, and it’s linking students from around the world, helping them pass some tough courses.
Joining me now is Ashwin Ram. He’s the director of Georgia Tech’s Cognitive Computing Lab, one of the founders of OpenStudy.
Sir, thank you for being here.
OpenStudy, this is a worldwide study group. Do I kind of have that right?
ASHWIN RAM, DIRECTOR, GEORGIA TECH’S COGNITIVE COMPUTING LAB: That’s right. Open Study is a match.com for studying. It’s a social learning network that enables students to connect and study together, and get help when they need it.
HOLMES: Now, you said you’ve all been thinking about this for a while, for the past couple of years. What were you trying to work out, make sure there was a market for it, or is there some complicated technology you had to work out as well?
RAM: It was actually both. We wanted to get the value proposition right for students. We spent a lot of time researching the core need that students have, and that resulted in OpenStudy.
HOLMES: What did you determine was that core need? What did you find that students out there needed?
RAM: So, students all over the world are hitting their textbooks late at night cramming for exams. Maybe they’re working on review problems, watching video lectures on iTunes or MIT.
When these students need help, who can they turn to? The core need was to be able to find someone who can help them and give them help right there, right then, no matter what time they needed that help.
HOLMES: All right. And this is, again, supposed to link students with students. Essentially a study group like at the library.
RAM: It’s a worldwide study group. Our mantra is “We want to make the entire world your study group.” So there’s always someone who can help you.
HOLMES: How does this thing work? It looks like a social network page almost here.
RAM: It does. So let’s say that you are a student, and you’re one of 10,000 students studying computer science on MIT’s web site. And you’re working on video lectures or problem sets, and you have a question.
RAM: What do you do? You join a study group. When you do that, you get dropped into the MIT OpenStudy Group.
As you can see, we have over 2,200 people out there. Think of them as your classmates that can help you any time you want.
I noticed that we’ve just had someone join us from Kenya.
HOLMES: Oh, wow.
RAM: We actually have students from 138 countries from around the world. That’s 71 percent of the world’s countries.
HOLMES: Now, does this cost the kids anything to sign up for?
RAM: No, it’s completely free.
HOLMES: I’ll be danged. So you can pretty much — as well, you’re talking about kids up all hours of the night. No matter — somewhere in the world somebody is going to be up, somebody’s going to be logged on, somebody’s going to be studying.
RAM: Someone will always help you. And so if you have — you can go in and help somebody, but if you have a question, or you want to just study together with someone, you click on “Ask a Question,” type some question in that you want help with, and say, “Ask Now.”
The question is posted. Everything updates in real time. And you go back to the site, and then someone will be available to start answering you.
HOLMES: Will start answering you.
All right. Are you ready for growth? Because this might catch on. Are you ready for what might come?
RAM: We are ready for growth.
RAM: We’ve had remarkable growth already. We’ve only been live two weeks. We have over 6,000 people already using the site.
HOLMES: All right. This is going to be the next Facebook, 500 million. Come back when you get 500 million members in there. All right?
RAM: Thank you.
HOLMES: All right.
Ashwin Ram from Georgia Tech.
Thank you so much. Cool concept.
RAM: Thank you. It was a pleasure.