Written by Catherine Stevens.
Hackademics: We Have A Problem
College students have it easy: school offers both content (your classes) and community (your classmates).
Hackademics, on the other hand, need to embrace a certain “I’ll-do-it-myself” mindset. Although we now have access to the content we need — through online classes, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), the library, and so forth — we don’t have a built-in community. Instead we have to build our own.
Why They’re Important
Real-life discussions facilitate learning. Although MOOCs offer forums for students to talk to each other, pertinent social cues can get lost in online dialogue. You don’t get the sensory feedback that you would get if you met and talked in person.
You’ll meet people with similar interests as you. Forming in-person study groups will help you expand your network. With these like-minded people you can develop lasting friendships and possibly collaborate in the future.
Student-directed groups often work better than professor-directed classes. In college, the professor might ask for questions right after a lecture, when students haven’t yet had the time to grasp the material. If you create your own study group, you can ask your peers for help at any point. Learning becomes a group experience, instead of a solitary one.
Starting Your Own
One way to get in touch with other learners is to create a Meetup group, which can be about almost anything. Many MOOCs have a Meetup page (e.g. Khan Academy’s one here). Ask other students to meet with you to have heated debates about things you’ve learned or just to help each other out with problems you’ve encountered. Being able to explain a concept to someone else will help you understand the material better as well.
Check out http://www.uncollege.org/resources/ under “Study Groups” for more learning communities.