Every good study group should begin with a scene from The Goonies.
Not just any scene, the scene where a soaked Sean Astin begs his non-hobbit companions to fight on and find the treasure. Why begin this way? Because this is our time!
And how are you going to get the full audio and visual impact of an 80s icon while sitting hushed in a campus library, with a cadre of studious peers all around you?
You can’t. If you’re going to indulge in such personalized, multimedia boisterousness to get you and your group in the mood for study you’re going to need your own space.
You’re going to need to gather via video conferencing.
Minds Meeting in a Video Call
Gathering together the right study group can be integral to getting the most out of yourself in college. Group thinking raises the comprehension and problem solving of its members, and sharing the stresses of that looming exam or crunch project is a great way to stay calm and keep things in perspective as the stakes mount.
However, getting the gang together on a consistent basis is always going to be a hassle. Someone’s out of town this week, the room you usually use has been booked, the corner you usually hide in is already taken, the dorm you usually meet in is hosting a raucous party.
Video conferencing lets each member of the group dial in from wherever life has them this week, and has no regard for the limits of room allotments or library closing hours. Not only does meeting online make the make the physical process of staring each other in the face easier, it makes the actual meeting itself more dynamic.
In a shared online space exchanging notes is instantaneous, everyone gets their own screen while watching recorded lectures, and you can tap into the talents of experts and peers outside the group with the click of a button.
The Perfect Platforms for Students
There are a huge number of video conferencing platforms available to students, and many services will accommodate groups of five and six for free.
In addition to the ubiquitous Skype and Google Hangouts, Anymeeting, WebEx Meetings Basic, Spreed Meeting, and GoToMeeting all offer free services that bring with them file sharing, screen sharing, and multi-party video calls.
To further boost the tech power of your online study group, free crowdsourcing apps like GoConqr (formerly Exam-time) let you create and share slides, flashcards, and quizzes, and give you a place to store all your study-related materials in a common place every member of the group can reach.
GoConqr also includes a community library of information created by other members, and lets you build public study groups, in case you feel the need to boost the brain power in your virtual room.
With a free video linkup and free access to some crowdsourced trickery, you can add to the group discussion by creating and sharing all manner of mnemonic aids keyed by your own visual, audio, and film tastes.
Study More Safely
In addition to making it easier to get together, a video conferencing study group also makes it safer.
As each member can stay within their own favorite quiet corner of the world, there’s no need for anyone to be out roaming the campus after dark should the discussion continue longer than planned. No one needs to Uber back across town, and no one needs to head back out to their car.
Of course, those discussions will rage on late simply because there won’t be anyone around to tell you the library or study hall is closing. Time itself can become relative once these sessions get rolling, as group members can join in from across the country or the world.
And there are more ways to meet via video conferencing than the standard collection of grinning chat windows.
Video Conferencing My Way
Blab has recently launched a public video conferencing system that incorporates streaming of media through a chat window. While the core idea is to create publicly broadcast debates, the technology is just as useful once you select the private room option.
As most major universities now offer streaming and archived video of lectures, you could ensconce the group within a Blab booth and discuss the significance of your teacher’s most recent presentation as it plays alongside.
Blab does limit the number of speakers to four, for the moment at least, but everyone else can watch the conversation live, make text comments alongside the main screen, and jump in and out of the visual element as needed.
It’s just another example of how an online study group via video chat gives you greater flexibility to do things your way. Study when you want, where you want, how you want, and with the full arsenal of all things internet and multimedia at your disposable.
It’s certainly the best way to get Sean Astin to contribute.