The teaching-learning dynamics have evolved from Gurukul study to classroom studies and from personal tutoring to online learning. The evolution comes with information( or learning) delivery needs and the advancement of technology that facilitates those learning demands.
It is interesting how students can leverage digital technology to learn from various books, scholarly material, and professors anywhere in the world; a practice that can transcend learning beyond classrooms.
Ed-tech companies have developed interactive platforms where the technology has left every study resource at the student’s disposal. This, in turn, has promulgated self-study among students. Online content is a good source of study but the students might also have some doubts while studying, which gives rise to the need for a mentor. Using online Q&A(questions and answers) platforms, students can ask questions or clarify their doubts.
Q&A with Experts on Chegg’s Website
Importance of Q&A Platforms
Q&A platforms prove to be quite helpful for the students in multiple ways-
- Online Q&A platforms deliver answers to the academic queries of students from anywhere in the world via subject experts, which helps them understand a topic from different perspectives.
- Q&A platforms are not time-specific. A student can ask questions at any time and tutors or subject experts can answer at any time. There are also some platforms that promise to get quick or instant answers.
- Q&A platforms help students to ask any number of questions on any subject that the website offers.
There are other Online Q&A platforms through which one can ask questions to other individuals in a community. These platforms are open to the public eye and scrutiny, where anyone can ask and answer those questions. Platforms like Quora and Stack exchange fall under this category.
However, these platforms contain more generic than academic questions because of who responds to them. Not all people answering these questions are subject experts. This is the raison d etre that students seeking an academic solution, find it challenging to be sure of the credibility of their answers.
The Deciding Factors
Other platforms offer solutions from experts. These services are often provided by Ed-tech companies with online learning portals and courses. We would rate some of the renowned Q&A platforms on the five factors mentioned below:
- Do the eLearning platforms that offer Q&A services proofread or moderate their content before sending it to the students?
- One question can have multiple answers, such as in subjects like Management. Allowing only one answer can affect the quality of the content. The platform should allow multiple answers to one type of question to support content breadth.
- Do the answers to the questions get feedback from other qualified educators or just the students? Content that students rate cannot be an appropriate practice. They may not have the complete knowledge to judge an answer, which is why they ask questions in the first place.
- Do the platforms harbor an honor code that takes appropriate action when the students use the study material for unethical reasons like cheating?
- Do they have an instant chat service or just a ‘Post a question’ service?
*24HourAnswers allows students to post their questions to connect with the tutors. The tutors quote a price for the question and give the answer in the time that the student demands.
Content moderation is a complex question because platforms only mention that the answers that the subject experts give; they hardly explicitly mention anything about quality-checking the answers of the experts themselves.
Q&A display box on CourseHero homepage
Chegg, CourseHero, Brainly, and Numerade give verified material for studying. But, they don’t offer a ‘live chat’ feature which the students could use to clarify their doubts in real time.
Q&A feature on Bartleby
There are some questions where more than one answer is possible as they are subjective in nature, such as human resources or humanities. However, some platforms like Chegg allow different answers for similar questions posted twice on the website. Websites like Numerade allow students to have further discussions on the same question as they allow everyone to see the comments on the topic of discussion.
Brainly is like a crowd-work platform where the students can also contribute by giving answers to other students and is just like a classroom discussion.
Who Rates The Posted Solutions?
Solutions that are posted on the platforms are mostly rated by students as part of their feedback. If the students give a red flag or a thumbs down to a solution, meaning that they are not satisfied with the answer, it can reduce the credibility of the subject expert.
Where Is The Honor!
Not all platforms play an active role in prohibiting the use of their website for cheating in class or getting ready-made homework. Some websites have an investigative order but some just put a disclaimer in the name of honor code, expressing that making wise use of the website is the student’s responsibility.
It is true that students should use content responsibly, but as these websites are used by younger students as well, the platforms should ensure that their content is not used for unscrupulous purposes like cheating.
Considering the parameters mentioned and the customer reviews evaluated, we believe that the Educational companies still have a long way to go as far as successful Q&A platforms are concerned.