For generations, students poring over dense textbooks of calculus and biology, reading Homer and Milton, memorizing chemical formulas and drilling foreign language vocabulary have employed flashcards to help learn the material. StudyBlue brings that time-tested strategy into the 21st century with the help of the web and social media technology, creating an online academic network that could help some students study more efficiently.
The site began life in 2007 as simple website created by two University of Wisconsin – Madison students who wanted a website that would make studying for tests and class preparation easier.
The site has now expanded to a number of other colleges, integrating students and professors’ needs to create shared files, study guides, curricula and flash cards.
It’s backed by a team of experts in the web technology field with decades of experience with Silicon Valley start-ups between them.
StudyBlue features practical study tips for college students as well as technological solutions. With iPhone and iPad integration, it’s possible to carry reams and reams of carefully organized, annotated study materials in the palm of your hand.
The software can keep track of which topics you’ve mastered, meaning that you don’t have to flip through page after page of redundant review. And there’s no chance of forgetting your study materials or not having them at an opportune moment – unless you leave your phone or computer at home, of course.
The service is initially free, although there’s an annual price tag for accessing the iPhone app and other premium features.
Many, not entirely unfairly, regard modern technological innovations like the iPad as more distracting than illuminating to the mission of learning. It’s true that without the right framework, these technologies can lead high school and college students astray.
However, they are also powerful learning tools that allow unprecedented access to a broad range of knowledge with powerful organizational and studying tools.
"The primary and perhaps revolutionary benefit of reading on the iPad is its ability to allow students to interact with content like they’ve never interacted before. Research definitively shows being an active, engaged reader increases comprehension and retention. And the iPad platform supports software that allows students to engage with texts they’re reading," writes the company on its blog.