Education-focused startup OpenStudy is a platform for “massively multi-player study groups.” What this means is that students who are studying the same subject like math or writing can ask and answer questions on OpenStudy, which uses Facebook Connect to let users interact and learn collaboratively through profiles and group chat.
OpenStudy aims to make education fun by providing users with gamification (yeah I know how terrible using this word is, but I make an exception for things education-related) elements like medals and achievements for completing actions like answering a question quickly or answering more than ten questions. You can also fan people you’d like to follow, giving users incentive to engage and contribute.
“We want OpenStudy profiles to become like LinkedIn for education,” says Marketing Manager Jon Birdsong, ”An accurate and evolving representation of your academic persona. We want our students to become heroes to their peers – and we want to make sure everyone knows when they are.”
Having just come out of beta in February OpenStudy now has 40,000 registered students in over 1,500 schools in 143 countries. There are 20,000 questions being asked monthly in the math group alone.
And the institutions that have forked over cash to support OpenStudy are impressive: the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Georgia Research Alliance and the Gates foundation. Most recently the startup partnered up with MIT OpenCourseWare to let students work together on over 65 courses.
Future plans for the startup include adding even more gamification features like referring questions to Facebook Friends, a groups function (“teams”) and the widgetization of OpenStudy profile credentials so users can add them to other sites. “We want our students to become heroes to their peers – and we want to make sure everyone knows when they are,” Birdsong explains.
Here’s a video of CEO Chris Sprague demoing the platform, below.