We saw education as the "root of all good": we thought we could either try to tackle every problem in society one by one, or we could try to give more people access to better education so they'd be empowered to tackle more problems.
We looked at the internet and saw this amazing communication medium which was falling short of its promise of helping students.
When students turned to the internet for help, they usually ended up on unhelpful sites like Yahoo Answers or Wiki Answers.
We thought the internet could do a lot better. We'd seen online communities build amazing resources like Wikipedia and StackOverflow when they were driven by a shared mission and we knew there were a lot of people in the world who cared about students having free access to better learning content.
So we started building Socratic.
The first version of Socratic was extremely simple and Chemistry was the only subject available. Tyler DeWitt became the first teacher to add content. Soon after, David joined as our designer and Kuba joined as engineer.
The Socratic community started growing and soon included people from all over the world contributing to making learning easier.
Because what seems easy, straight-forward, or simple to you may be something a student has struggled to understand for a while now.
One of the best parts about Socratic is that it is an anonymous way for students to ask questions, even very basic questions. When we answer a question with, "If you think about it, it's really simple" or something along these lines, you might not realize that a topic you find easy to understand is a topic the student has seriously struggled with.
These phrases seem harmless, and some of the time they probably are. Other times a student may have already asked a teacher for help, searched for the answer on the internet, and that student is still stuck. Many students of all ages don't feel comfortable enough to raise their hand in class and ask for help, but they should be able to do so here. By saying, "If you think about it, it's really simple," you imply that the person hasn't thought about the topic, and you imply that the answer is easy, which it might not be.
Everyone has struggled with some subject at one point in their life, and for all you know, the person asking this question might be having a very difficult time, so, in my opinion, omit these types of phrases and stick to explaining the topic.
There's been a new update to messaging on Socratic! Now you can privately message other community members and look back on your previous conversation.
If you'd like to send a personal message to someone else in the community, here's what you should do:
Find the person's profile by clicking their name anywhere it appears on the site (or, read how to search for people here)
Once on their profile, you'll see a blue "Send Message" button to the right of their name:
After clicking the button, you'll be taken to your conversation with that person ...
... and you are free to message them as you wish!
The person you messaged will receive an email and a bell notification about your message.
Other messaging resources:
The Socratic community prides itself on writing answers to students' questions that actually teach the concepts.
On Socratic, the best answers leave students feeling empowered and inspired by understanding, rather than leaving them with just a quick answer.
Featured answers expose and celebrate such answers. They are examples of the very best we can create: answers that truly teach and make learning easier for students.
You can see featured answers on the top of each subject's home page:
To see all the featured answers in a subject, click "view more" in the bottom right (shown with a green arrow above).
Featured answers are chosen by Socratic Heroes and subject moderators. To learn about the selection process, read this.
Having your answer chosen to be featured is something to be proud of and to strive for! But remember that not every answer can be featured, and learning how to write a featured answer is a skill you'll acquire with practice.
Let us know your questions and what you think of this feature in the comments!
As of July 14, 2016, the Socratic app is available in the app store!
Download it and let us know what you think!
Yes! As you know, we care deeply about helping students learn. When we started Socratic in 2013, we wanted to improve what students found when they turned to the Internet for help.
Three years later, this community has far exceeded that goal, and is still creating unbelievable answers every day. For that, students are emphatically grateful.
Every student deserves this experience. And today, when they're struggling, many students turn to their phones for help (some out of convenience; others because they simply don't have access to a desktop computer).
So we’re building an app that will bring the magic of the Socratic website directly to any student with a smartphone.
In the app, we hope to make the learning experience for students as accessible as possible.
We’ve built easier ways to ask a question, and we’ve used machine learning to analyze those questions and take students directly to the most relevant, helpful material—just as a tutor would.
In this way, the app will allow the learning content you create on the Socratic website to reach more students and help them in new ways, and we can’t wait to see just how far we can take this together. More students, more questions, more answers, more learning.
What do you think?