Carnegie Mellon University educators have created an app that is designed to bring students together, so they can help each other learn and improve their study skills. Given the name Classroom Salon, the app was motivated by social network sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Salon has been used by thousands of high school and college students this past year. This year the app will extend the service to students at the University of Baltimore with the purpose to help prevent students from failing introductory courses and eventually dropping out of school.
The app is available by invitation only, but Classroom Salon’s site offers examples of how it brings students together. According to Network World, the social networking mechanisms are used to give users the ability to comment via online annotations on assigned texts, such as a fellow student’s writing. Students can then filter through the comments by the originators of the comments. They can be guided according to color coded highlights relating to parts of their writing that generated the most discussion.
Professor Ananda Gunawardena of CMU Computer Science Department with David S. Kaufer, an English professor, developed the app. Gunawarden said, “With Classroom Salon, we’ve tried to capture the sense of connectedness that makes social media sites so appealing, but within a framework that allows groups to explore texts deeply. So it’s not just social networking for the sake of socializing but enhancing the student experience as readers and writers.”
Watching the video, which is below, will give you a much better idea of how the program works. The application of Salon could easily be used outside the classroom, such as writing groups or law offices. Any group that needs writing reviewed or critique would.
Network World also reports that a $250K grant from the Next Generation Learning Challenges program backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will support using the app at the University of Baltimore. It will be used in conjunction with free learning resources from CMU’s Open Learning Initiative.