By Esther Zuckerman
At 5:28 p.m. on Jan. 16 Alisa Houghton â08 posted ânice workâ¦some true collaborationâ on the wall of the âStudy Group for NORMAL [U.S.] History â study guides, study buddies, and more!!!â on the networking site Facebook.com. Then at 8:00 a.m. the next day, she went into take her U.S. History midterm.
At 2:52 a.m. on Jan. 18 Houghton posted on the wall for the group âAP Spanish Languageâ saying: âiâm gonna let it go in favor of a little sleeeep. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!â She again woke up to go take her Spanish test.
Finally, at 4:12 p.m. on Jan. 19, the day before AP Environmental Science final, she repeated herself (with fewer exclamation points) saying: âGOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!!!!! â on the wall of the âAPES Midterm Study Group!â a group that she herself had created.
Houghton used these groups as a utility to aid her studying processes in the days leading up to semester exams.
âItâs more effective than groups studying in person,â she said. âYou donât get caught up talking, and itâs not like a social gathering because itâs online.â
In these groups students can ask questions, post study guides and discuss the format of the exam.
âWhen are you going to get 32 people together in one place?âÂ said Samir Chaudry â07 who was a member of the AP Environmental Science group.
The first study group appeared long before finals. It is for students in AP Chemistry, a class that has always yielded student collaboration because of its difficulty level.
Still, some teachers were unaware that the groups even existed.
âAs long as people arenât copying each otherâs work then itâs fine,â AP Environmental Science teacher Dietrich Schuhl said. Schuhl also mentioned the problems with doing anything online.
âE-mail speak and real speak are two different things,â he said. âThereâs great potential for miscommunication.â
History Department Chair Katherine Holmes-Chuba also expressed doubts.
âThereâs always a danger when you donât see people,â she said. âYou canât see somebodyâs reaction.â
While sharing study guides and notes is not against the schoolâs Honor Code, Holmes-Chuba is skeptical because they can be used as a last resort for students who have not done their own work and can be misleading. Both students and teachers realize that if the groups are used in the wrong way they could become a problem with the administration.
âIf people respect the Honor Code I think Facebook could really help,â Houghton said.
Students such as Stephanie Da Silva â08 who created both an AP Spanish Language study group and an AP Physics B study group recognized that the tool worked better in classes that were more reading intensive.Â
Â âYou canât put formulas down,â she said.
Recently, Chaudry created another group regarding AP Environmental Science: the âSong for the Blue Ocean Group.â âSong for the Blue Oceanâ by Carl Safina is required reading for AP Environmental Science students.
âIt could be taken the wrong way if someone didnât read the book,â he said.
âI worry about the âSong for the Blue Oceanâ group,â Schuhl said. âIt will be really easy to cut and paste.â
When creating the âAPES Midterm Study Group,â Houghton had no intention of creating something that could act in place of hard work.Â Â
Â âI wasnât advocating an easy way out,â she said.