With the fall semester starting, students are already trying to establish a flow within their classes. This can be through making sure they have all their required textbooks, materials or, one of the most popular preparations, the formation of study groups.
I am quite confident that students, myself included, have already received a multitude of emails from classmates, inviting them to join a GroupMe chat. To briefly explain what that is, GroupMe is a messaging app with the primary function of forming group chats. This app is quite popular among college students, and it's generally very easy to maneuver.
However, what if I were to say that there’s another app that has risen through the ranks of messaging apps? An app that has the potential of revolutionizing communication in the classroom? That app is Discord.
For the past couple of years, Discord has begun to branch its target audience to reach other markets of the messaging industry. Discord was initially a messaging app designed for gamers to easily communicate with one another, via chat or call. As expressed on the official Discord page, the app was made so that people from all over the world can connect and form friendships over their love of gaming. With that philosophy still in mind, the app has now branched off to include many other communities, such as garden enthusiasts, movie buffs and of course, study groups.
The service has already begun to creep its way into the everyday lives of college students. If you were to go on google and look up “Discord study groups” you would find a plethora of servers (communities) created and organized by students that you can join and communicate with fellow college students. Before the internet was at the level that it is today, you had to actually go on campus and search endlessly to find either an already established study group or have to form one from scratch. Now, joining a study group is as simple as following someone on Facebook, and Discord is becoming a pioneer in this stage of online study groups.
You may be wondering, what features of Discord distinguish it from other messaging apps? Well, the application is beyond just having a chat and call function. Within Discord, users have the ability to create group chats to serve a variety of functions. You can create channels, which essentially are different chat rooms that can be designed to focus on certain aspects of conversation. Perhaps you want one channel to focus on asking questions about the class material, while another channel can be created to serve as an off-topic room geared towards meeting your classmates. You can even create different voice channels that will allow users to have different conversations at once.
Another notable feature of Discord is its ability to screenshare (streaming what’s on a person’s screen). This feature is especially useful in a study group setting when a group wants to either review a study guide together or if an individual wants to get some input on a particular assignment they’re struggling on. This service provides easy access for college students to reach one another and help each other, and with the pandemic still holding reign over the world, having the ability to reach out to one another through technological means is all the more critical.
It’s not just college students who are taking advantage of this service, but there are even college professors who have implemented the use of this app and have had remarkable results. Last semester, I took a class where the professors of Business Administration 277 had created a Discord server that served as the place where the professors and preceptors held their office hours. The server also developed channels that correlated with certain professors, where you could text a question and either the professor or a preceptor would answer your question in a timely manner.
I found this way of communicating in the classroom to be revolutionary. No more waiting hours for a professor to answer an email or having to wait until a certain time to go to office hours. It’s fast and efficient. I can only imagine that many professors will follow suit once they become aware of the advantageous features that Discord has to offer.
With Discord’s easy-to-manage interface, it’s only a matter of time before college students begin to find discord invites in their email. Who knows what other features and uses the college community will make of Discord; the possibilities are endless.
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Tereza Rascon (she/her) is a junior majoring in English. She loves to watch musical theater, read and write on her free time.