Taking Study Hall Online

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Study halls are often parodied in teen movies as a place to flirt, nap and see who can flick a paper football the farthest. In reality, dedicated study periods are an endangered species, often replaced with additional instructional time by high schools intent on raising standardized test scores.  Studying with friends offers many benefits, but once the final bell rings, it can be difficult to coordinate a time and place when everyone can get together. And for college students, getting a group together can be even more complicated when you factor in work schedules and the fact that classmates sometimes live far from campus.

But these days, things are different. Thanks to modern technology, all you need for a collaborative study session is an Internet connection. According to an August 2012 survey conducted by textbook rental company Chegg, online study halls are predicted to become  even more popular this year, with nearly half of the college students surveyed considering using an online study group in the upcoming school year. The great thing about digital study groups is that you’re not just limited to studying with your friends; some websites offer open study groups based on subject, allowing you to collaborate with students around the country. When you’re ready to take your study group online, you have a few options to choose from.

For a basic private study session with a few friends, the simplest option is probably a Google+ Hangout. Hangouts are easy to set up, free, and offer screen-sharing, Google Docs collaboration and the ability to use in an interactive whiteboard to make notes or work out problems as a group. If you’re away from your computer, you can even join in from your iPhone or Android-based smartphone. By creating a Google+ circle specifically for your study partners, you can also share files, links and other notes outside of a hangout.

ThinkBinder offers a more structured environment, allowing you to create a private invite-only study hall with a group calendar, collaborative whiteboard and the ability to upload files to the group. You can interact with other group members using the private messaging system, text chat or video chat. The site also offers a news feed that displays group status updates and file uploads; in a particularly useful twist, the text box for status updates includes a math editor that makes it easy to post complex equations.

If sharing notes was your favorite part of study hall, check out StudyBlue or QuizMeOnline, free social study networks that encourage users to create and upload material like flash cards, study guides and quizzes to share with other students. Both sites allow you to create a private group or search through publicly shared study aids. If you don’t have anyone to study with, QuizMeOnline also allows you to search for new study buddies by school and location.

Where do you plan to study this year? Tell me about it in the comments.

Photo credit: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

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