Penn State Students Create “Academic Social Network” for Students and Professors

Have you ever taken a class at Penn State where you have no clue what’s going on? Have you been looking for a place to collaborate and discuss homework, quizzes, tests, and projects with other students somewhere other than Facebook, Twitter, and GroupMe?

Well, look no further. A group of Penn State students have created a website called CourseGroups — an academic social network designed for college students and professors.

According to Pawel Puchalski, CEO and founder of CourseGroups, the site “begins by providing a group for every course a student or professor attends in their current semester. Within the group, students collaboratively discuss homework solutions, notes, problem sets, practice exams, and other logistics of the curriculum.”

Sign-up is completely free, and only takes a few clicks and some basic information (name, year, major, etc.). After logging in, you’re presented with a one-stop homepage for all your classes – no more bouncing between Angel, Facebook, and email.

“Students want to communicate with each other outside of the classroom, but many times that possibility doesn’t exist simply because the venue has not been created,” says Puchalski, a senior from Chicago majoring in economics and member of the Penn State fencing team, said. “They have to resort to tools which were not meant for academics, rather for social activities. We believe you shouldn’t be mixing your social and academic life because you get distracted easily on Facebook. Also, privacy is an issue since Facebook shows a lot of your information – and professors’ main reason of avoiding Facebook groups is because of privacy.”

In addition, CourseGroups “provides a database of user-published content including lecture notes, study guides, practice exams, and tutorials,” as well as “a custom calendar specifically constructed for academics in hope of improving means of organization.” A private group messaging system is also in place, making it easier to stay connected with your peers in one convenient location, rather than relying on Facebook or GroupMe.

The best part? Publishers get paid based on the amount of views their documents receive. If you take great notes or have a knack for making awesome study guides, you can upload them to the website and receive compensation for your hard work.

With over 1,400 users, and plans to incorporate a course/professor rating system by the spring semester, CourseGroups provides a great opportunity for students to take charge of their academic pursuits.

“My company’s goal is to provide the most useful experience possible for students around the world, starting with Penn State,” Puchalski said. “I envision a large network of peers helping each other, getting rewarded for it, learning, and improving their grades. I simply want to help students with their academics.”

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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