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I also noted that. But let's face the fact that we don't really know what happens on the other side of the computer. And after all, if people want to answer to such questions, aren't they free to do it ? To conclude, I bet the students who use the site this way won't stay students very long... And that definitely is our revenge ! Bouhahahahahaha !
Well, that's one way to look at it! But seriously . . . would be nice if the site could live up more to its promise. Or if more of the sort of students that could really use this site in the right way would find it.
And I'm speaking of course of schoolwork. In terms of asking for and receiving tips in the professional realm -- working with software, developing software, and so on -- that's another matter. This site looks to be a great resource for that as well.
Redwood Girl, People only seeking answers is a fact-of-life in the education industry, not unique to our site. That said, we don't consider this as a form of "abuse" because moderator action isn't the best way to change how these users approach their homework. If you really want to change this behavior, encourage these users to give you more details about the progress they've already made. When you do this, one of three things will happen. Either a) they'll figure out on their own that "learning" more than just "answering" is better, b) they'll just wait until someone gives them the answer, or c) they respond rudely to your attempts to get them to learn. No moderator action can force people to choose category a. In fact, people who have tried have only alienated users who do genuinely need help because the lines between a and b are so thin. That said, if someone falls into category c - let us know and we'll deal with it as swiftly as possible. We're constantly evaluating our options here, and introducing mechanisms of positive reenforcement of good questions. We recently introduced the "good question" button, for example. And we have other options that are in the "idea" phase. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter, and we're glad to have you here on OpenStudy. Let us know if you have any other questions.
I've seen b and c in action so far. The desirable scenario, a, where it will take, probably does not do so immediately. I wasn't thinking of the moderators taking direct action so much as something in the design of the site, and how it works. Just wondering if there were a way to to build more encouragement of discussion and study into the design. In terms of the community, the more overall awareness there is among members to encourage students to *think* through problems, the better. Have you done any community outreach in this respect? Some people truly may not know any better. They may think that simply supply the correct answer is being helpful.
Another thought, if you (the site creators) become aware of someone who is posting hundreds and hundreds of simple homework questions, across multiple subjects, over a period of months, and these are absolutely the only questions she is posting -- she never engages in discussion, she never interacts with other students, she never answers a question -- oughtn't you to bar that person or to limit her use or to force her to redirect? I'm thinking that if you don't, and if there is enough of this thing going on, there will eventually be a backlash. I know if I were a high school teacher right now, I'd be taking a close look at how my students used this site, and I might be thinking of trying to bar them myself. Or certainly to implement a policy at my school against the use of the site. I'm all for study groups. But a design that completely does away with study? Not good.
In terms of the design of the site, we're looking at options like that - as I said. But it's something we want to do carefully. In regard to community awareness, that's an area we can probably improve on. We thought about putting it in the Code of Conduct, but it doesn't really fit because the CoC contains things that are punishable by moderator action. See what I mean? In essence, backlash is a possibility, but highly unlikely in my opinion. Google would have had a more significant backlack than us years ago. But it's something we've thought about.
Another thought, if you (the site creators) become aware of someone who is posting hundreds and hundreds of simple homework questions, across multiple subjects, over a period of months, and these are absolutely the only questions she is posting -- she never engages in discussion, she never interacts with other students, she never answers a question -- oughtn't you to bar that person or to limit her use or to force her to redirect? a lot of such users but nothing is done
That's a shame then. And a real disappointment.
I'll reiterate and clarify a couple of the things farmdawgnation said: - People who just want answers will find them. Our goal is to bring them into a community that will hopefully channel them from seeking just answers to seeking true learning. Kicking them out does not help in this goal in the least, and the process of switching from one category to the other is uncertain and is a long-term thing. - We do know people get frustrated at seeing just-answers posted. We encourage you to skip over users who show no desire for deeper help if what you want to give is deeper help. We're also working to help people who are looking for better askers find them. This was the main motivation behind the “good question” button that we released late last week in lieu of a “good answer” button for the asker. - We already have, and will continue to come up with, ideas for ways to further encourage people to ask better questions. Right now, this includes achievements, rewards, and medals for questions. In the future, we'll be putting more emphasis on people's asker status and trying to differentiate “good questions” and good answerers in the feed on the left so they're easier to spot. We do throttle question posting for new users, though perhaps not as much as we could. That's something we're looking at. However, there are decently-ranked users that still ask lower-quality questions. These are people who are obviously not hated by the community. For now, we have no intention of excluding “bad askers” from the community altogether. Our goal is to foster a community that includes these users and turns their habits to something more productive for them. If we were to exclude them, we would literally be excluding the people who are most in need of help and encouragement. The only thing that does is lose us users, and the thing it doesn't do is help them learn, or learn to learn, or learn to enjoy learning. We'd love hearing any ideas anyone has for good ways to include these people, and good ways to encourage them to become better learners.
In response to Redwood Girl's most recent comment specifically and this thread in general I would note as a college professor (and thanks to concurrent enrollment I frequently have a few high school students in my classes as well) I try to minimize the importance of standardized questions involving true / false, multiple choice, etc. When I do use them they are in a study guide format that I give pass / fail points for effort, but have little impact on the final grade. For my classes students must document their progress on projects & essays by keeping me updated throughout the process (I build these update dates into the handout I give with the project). If there is a written or physical component (sketches, etc) I initial these updates when they are meeting with me. Then at the end of the process I require that they submit all of this documentation with their finished work. I also let students know if they don't submit the documentation they will automatically receive an F for their work (or lack thereof). So far this seems to have minimized cheating in my classes. Now, to your broader point I agree that there do seem to be a lot of students who are trying to abuse the site. I really don't see this as any different from having students copy a friend's work before a class - and we all know this has been going on forever. But I think the issue you are trying to get at is the overuse of these kinds of assessment tools by teachers. And that, I think, is a topic for a different community. ;-)
In response to shadowfiend, this is a difficult enough proposition in the classroom, to reach the students who, for one reason or another, seem not to care. To turn them from apathetic, jaded, discouraged, or wherever within that negative terrain they dwell to curious, engaged, and enthusiastic learners. A good teacher can sometimes do it, but even the best of teachers can fail to reach some. School is only a small part of students' lives, particularly in high school, and there may be so many years of bad habits (or difficult families, or both) to have laid the foundation that the task becomes even more daunting. So how to contribute to that difficult task on a site like this? That's a tough one. Perhaps you can tap the expertise of teachers active on the site? You've asked here, within this forum, for ideas. Why not ask more visibly? I'll bet a group of experienced teachers could brainstorm some good ideas to add to those you've already been kicking around. Recognizing the value of good questions certainly seems a good move. In response to sertsa, with more teachers like you, there'd be little way students could misuse a resource like this. All the better, not only with respect to that, but with respect to the learning process itself. I'm thinking that many high school teachers rely upon the kind of test that can be measured on a scantron, and the work throughout the semester reflects that approach accordingly. I could be wrong. As for cheating, yes, certainly it has always been among us, but with the web, it is so much easier now to cheat -- and to plagiarize -- and on a scale never before possible. The student who does not see the value for him- or herself of learning the material will take the easy way out. If used well, this site could do so much to enhance a student's learning and to foster a community within which to learn. It's way cool, and I wish there had been something like this around when I was in high school (about a hundred years ago). It saddens me to see its potential so little enjoyed by those who would most benefit from it.
In terms of suggestions, maybe you need to consider implementing a button to *deduct* points for the answer that just gives the questioner what he or she is looking for -- the direct, straight answer, without any discussion or thought -- to help discourage this type of "help," particularly where it is not appropriate. I just saw another one of these types of questions (among the many) in one of the study groups, and the asker posted a follow-up, saying "please, will give medal!" And that's how the medals seem to be treated all too often: as a reward for giving the asker the answer, quickly and neatly, no discussion needed. Luckily the person who responded to this question responded by explaining to the person asking how to figure out the answer. :) We need more responses like that! And to be fair, there are plenty of folks on the site who *do* (thankfully) answer like that.
Oh, as an addendum, of course when someone is asking something like help with instructions or help citing a source, or a question of that sort, a direct answer can be entirely appropriate.
It's probably not feasible to implement a deduct function. Too easily misused, I suppose.
The thing is, we already think the site is enhancing students' learning. We actually are constantly soliciting advice for how we can improve things in that sense from teachers and professors, we just don't necessarily do it on-site. Two of our co-founders are professors who have taught in college classrooms for some time, and all three have done research in the education space and both researched and made contributions to learning theory and pedagogical strategies. I'm slightly less qualified, but I TA-ed a class for three years, so I've also been in front of students, teaching, helping with homework after class, the works. So please understand that we have experienced the pains and the joys of teaching. What we're looking at making with OpenStudy is an approach to learning that is unlike anything out there. One that acknowledges collaboration as one of the best tools when we get stuck. One that argues that perhaps the people who don't want to learn may be sucked into it if the environment is different enough from a traditional classroom. And one that seeks to lay down a new way, in time, of evaluating what makes someone good at a subject—not just standardized tests, but how much and how effectively they can help their peers when those peers hit a wall. The thing is, this isn't going to be an overnight thing. We've only been at this for a short time, and we know this is a long-term vision. And we have to balance that vision with the fact that we also need the site to grow now. I love the fact that we're having this conversation, by the way. Despite the fact that I've had it tens of times over the past months, I know that the fact that you're engaging us on this means *you care*, and that means a great deal to us. So my message to you is: please be patient with us. We're not superhuman, despite the fact that we'd like to be, and we can only do so many things at the same time :) It sounds like you're already enjoying OpenStudy the way it is now, so please believe me when I say we want to improve it. As a side note, deduction *may* be added in the future. Our main resistance to it right now is that as much as we can, we'd like to encourage positivity, and we think that starts at square one with the site design, and only continues from there to the community. As things evolve, however, we may find a “down vote” button of some sort may be necessary. We haven't discarded this idea at all, we just don't think it'll be super-useful right now. Keep the feedback coming!
All of this is good to hear. I'm glad that the question I raised has been raised before, that steering students more towards all the benefits of studying (really studying) together and mentoring each other has been factored into the design, that you're aware of where this goal is not currently achieved, and that you're always on the lookout for ways to guide students more toward this path. I'm certainly satisfied at this point that a lot of thought has gone into the model. I'd thought at first it was more a case of corporate hype, of that disconnect I have seen so often between the marketing of an idea and its implementation. I do care, which is why I tutored through much of my time in school and at one time even considered going into teaching. The staggering load of papers, the low pay, the part-timer status of so many of my peers (spread across two or more campuses to make ends meet), all of this eventually dissuaded me. I still teach, through a university extension program, though, as an adjunct to my regular work. But I do love the climate of school. I can't really get away from it. :)