Roughly 52 percent of the world's population is under 30 years old, and in the United States, 75 percent of this generation uses social media, based on a 2010 Pew Research Center study on the Millennial generation. College students make up a significant segment of that population. Just as college students are using social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to share their social lives online, new social media tools are a way these students can share their academic work online as well. Here is a rundown of some social media tools college students can use to share everything from homework help to book rentals.
This online tool allows collaborators around the world to create interactive presentations to share with others, both online and offline. Adam Somlai-Fischer and Peter Halacsy launched Prezi from their homes in Budapest in 2009 because they felt that PowerPoint slides limited their ability to develop and explain ideas. Instead of clicking through individual slides, Prezi viewers click around a large "mind-map," which can feature text, images, and videos, explains Patrick Johnson, a junior at the University of South Florida who has used the site for college presentations. Prezi's Chief Evangelist Angelie Agarwal, who spreads the word about the site, equates Prezi to an "infinite whiteboard" wherein the audience can see an overview of a topic, or zoom in to see the relations between topics. Prezi Founder and Head of Design Somlai-Fisher created an example of this kind of presentation, which they naturally call a "prezi": "Why You Should Move Beyond Slides."
Colby Gergen, a junior at the University of Missouri, says he likes Prezi because it is a new tool people are more likely to pay attention to, as opposed to PowerPoints, which he says cause people to "zone out." "Prezi makes my presentation better because it's really based around using images and graphics more than using text-heavy, bullet-point, paragraph style PowerPoints." Gergen says he's used Prezi for a variety of projects, including presentations for classes and organizations, as well as public speaking events. Students can also create a résumé on Prezi and then post it on their LinkedIn profile or on other job sites.
Prezi can be shared with others both online and offline, where students can collaborate with others, says Somlai-Fischer. Students can make their prezi public on the "Prezi Showcase," where anyone on the site can see it. They can also embed the prezi on a blog or website, or they can share it via an E-mail sent by Prezi. Finally, students can share the prezi link on Facebook or Twitter through the "Prezi Showcase."
On this free note-sharing website, students rate their peers' class notes so that only the strongest survive—and those get rewarded. GradeGuru, an education start-up by McGraw Hill, was founded in 2008 by Emily Sawtell, the director of student innovation for the textbook publisher. Students can sign up either through their Facebook account via Facebook Connect or register directly on GradeGuru.com. Students can search for notes on specific classes within their school, or they can search for more general topics or classes in the network of more than 330 colleges and universities.
Students can earn "status" rankings of gold, silver, or bronze, as well as accrue points on GradeGuru based on their notes' quality, quantity, and user ratings. Also, there's a monetary incentive for taking good notes in class. For every 100 points a student acquires, he or she earns $1. These earnings can be traded in for PayPal credits, Starbucks or iTunes gift cards, or donations to environmental organizations, including American Forests and Trees for the Future. As soon as students attain silver or gold status, they rise to the Guru Privileges Program, a job and internship recruitment program. These students receive a monthly newsletter on job opportunities and can then send their résumés to employers.
Corrected on 05/12/10: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of Patrick Johnson's college. He attends the University of South Florida. The article also misstated how David Spinks has used Notehall.com.