Students utilize new Facebook group chat to their advantage

November 3, 2010 — by Lillian Chen and Allison Toh
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Facebook is helping students study with a new feature.

On a Thursday night, junior Varsha Ramesh looked at her chemistry homework and sighed in frustration. It was the night before her AP Chemistry quiz. Completely confused, Ramesh decided to open up Facebook, but not to write on someone’s wall, browse photos or chat away. Instead, Ramesh clicked on the AP Chem group and opened the group chat and typed, “Did anyone get the right answer to No. 8 on the equilibrium worksheet?” In an instant, five people replied and explained their answers.

Facebook is known for its dynamic and constantly changing designs regarding chat applications and home feed layouts. While some of these alterations have brought about complaints, the newest form of groups on the social network has been met with success.

The new Facebook groups keep the standard system of allowing users to post comments or questions on the group wall, as well as to upload pictures or videos. But as of mid October, users are now also able to chat with all members of the group at once, thanks to the new option dubbed “group chatting.”

Many students have started to use the new version of groups as a way to study and communicate with each other all at once. For classes such as AP Biology and AP Chemistry, students have created groups so others can ask curriculum-related questions and receive help on homework. Not only useful for homework, the site has also proven to be a forum for jokes and memorable events, especially for the AP Physics students, who post quotes from teacher Bill Drennan and pictures of his fish on the site.

“I think it’s great that students are using these Facebook groups to study,” said AP Chemistry and Honors Chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu. “It’s great how helpful it is for them.”

The trend of using Facebook groups as modern-day study groups was brought to Saratoga High when Ramesh read an article about how the newly updated Facebook groups now enable group chatting. Ramesh thought it would be convenient for people to use for academics. “After I made it, people were just added to it, and it developed into a really organized study group,” said Ramesh.

“I made one for AP Calc and it was really popular, so I thought why not for Chem?” said Ramesh. Ramesh thinks that the group has helped herself and other students study more efficiently.

“It’s really helpful to have a group of people already organized so you can ask questions. This way, I don’t have to scroll through my chat list and try to remember who is in [AP Chemistry]!” said Ramesh.

Students in Bob Kucer’s AP Biology classes have also begun to use groups as a method of receiving help.

“We made the Bio group because we knew it would help us,” said junior Priyanka Arunkumar. “We usually all get in one chat group anyway and try to talk and solve the problem, but then [chatting] got kind of confusing because you can’t Facebook chat a bunch of people at the same time unless you have [group chat].”

Although having these Facebook groups is helpful, there is a downfall. Many users have said the group chat can get annoying since some members spam the chat and the chat always pops up, according to Ramesh.

“Every time there’s homework due, I see [the group chat] pop up at around 8 p.m. and it goes till around 11 p.m., sometimes even midnight,” said junior Viraj Parmar, who is also a member of the AP Chemistry Facebook group. “I guess it’s useful, but the chat gets really annoying because it pops up even when you don’t want it to.”

Even with the groups’ faults, many students have expressed their liking for Facebook’s new addition.

“I think the Facebook groups are pretty helpful because they let various people communicate together and share information for a certain purpose” said Arunkumar. “Also anything can be shared on a Facebook group like photos, links, documents, and videos to help each other out.”