Our college-aged children are addicted to their mobile phones. They text thousands of times monthly, and even surf their devices to look up information during class. By Sallie Severns (Founder, Answer Underground)
Let’s face this cell phone addiction. It's not going away. We must harvest it to empower students to better their grades – by providing students free homework help regardless of location or economic situation.
That's why this spring I launched the Answer Underground iPhone app, a powerful crowdsourcing tool that literally puts fellow students and professors in one's hip pocket. Answer Underground is based on the idea that collaboration is fundamental to the learning experience. And the metrics back up the idea that Answer Underground is the right approach.
For starters, according to Presta Electronics, 73% of college students find they cannot study without the aid of technology, and 38% cannot go 10 minutes without checking their smartphones. Mashable Tech says more than half of college students own a smart phone, and college-aged adults between the ages of 18-24 text on average 109.5 messages daily - a whopping 3,200 texts monthly.
What's more, the ECAR National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2011, found that 45% of smartphone users employ their phones to look up information during class. 59% use their smartphones to find data pertaining to their coursework after class, the study says.
After signing in to the Answer Underground app through a Facebook account, a student or instructor may pose a question, which others in that group immediately see. In real-time, other students and instructors answer the question, both of which can be rated as being correct or incorrect by the group. Best of all, whenever a student or instructor posts an answer, a notification is immediately sent via text or email.
Thousands of students nationwide are already taking advantage of the app.
"The answer response is not a long waiting time," says Nya Smith, an 18-year-old biology major at Texas Southern University. "And when I need the answer, I know that there is an actual professor who is capable of answering my question." Henry Bradlow, a 22-year-old U.C. Berkeley EECS major, agrees. "Tools such as Answer Underground greatly improve my connection to professors and TA's in classes that are otherwise too big to have such contact."
Nearly every major subject is listed within the app including math, science, literature, history, art, social science, business, law, health, religion and more. Students can search by subject and find groups and questions that pertain to their search. They can create their own groups and invite classmates or join an existing group - eventhose at other schools and colleges.
Texas A&M English-theater major Valerie McBride, 22, says one of the "greatest" benefits of the Answer Underground app is the ability to search for topics quickly without having to use Google, which can be littered with advertisements and off-base answers.
That's not all, she says. "I would have never collaborated with Stanford and U.C. Berkeley without this app. "Being from Texas, I don't have access to either university. But seeing those groups, it makes me open my eyes to the possibilities available to my school as well."
To be sure, students will continue to employ apps for dating, movies, music, food and everything else under the sun. Now they can add the Answer Underground app to the mix - one empowering their education.
Yes. There's an app for that.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Sallie Severns is Founder of Answer Underground. After successfully launching education verticals for Nextag and Answers.com/Announce Media, Sallie focused on the underserved education market by creating a learning app, connecting students with academic Q & A in a group environment. Sallie holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley and has spent the past seven years focused specifically in education lead gen. Follow her on Twitter at @sallieseverns.