Group chats can be harmful in an academic setting


Yen Nguyen

Sophomore Kim Nguyen uses her phone to check Echo during her Mandarin class on Oct. 27. Students have taken to using social media and group chats to help them prepare for class or get help with their homework.

August Jackson and Brandon Teeny

With the technology revolution in full swing, new innovations have made it possible for students to enrich their education. But with every good comes an inevitable bad, and some of these inventions can be harmful to a student’s understanding. Using social media to study is one of them. Such creations, like group chats and messaging systems, may make it easier for students to keep up, but is it a hindrance when it comes to helping students actually learn the content?

There are two groups of people who see the consequences of group chat use: the students who use it for a quick A, and the teachers who see the exact same explanations over and over. Yes, despite what students might think, teachers can almost always tell when a student used someone else’s work as their own.

“I know when people copy, and I’ll mention it to them or make a note on their homework,” said Martin Goldman-Kirst, a math teacher. “In the future, I won’t give credit.”

Some teachers have strong feelings on the issue, but others believe it’s up to students to determine how they choose to treat their education. Math and science are two of the most common subjects for students to share what they know on social media.

“I want to believe that students inherently want to learn and not just copy … to get it done,” said Daniel Quach, who teaches chemistry and forensics. “But I know in reality, sometimes that’s the way it is for them.”

Math teacher Molly Cava said it depends on how the group chats are being used, and while some students may think they are being helpful, they are actually hurting the learning process.

“Students want to help each other and think that showing answers promotes learning, but they don’t understand [the work],” Cava said.

Ninth grade Humanities teacher David Dreeben emphasized the importance of trusting students. He believes if he trusts his students to do what is morally right when it comes to group chats, they will trust him if they are struggling with the content.

Having a trusting relationship with teachers could alleviate idea that students need to copy homework instead of asking for help.

“Communication is a huge part in what makes a group effective,” said Dreeben. He encourages students to use Remind, a text messaging group that allows phone numbers to stay anonymous.

While most students use group chats with good intentions, messaging systems become ineffective once games enter the mix. The minute someone starts to play a game on a group chat, it moves from its intended purpose to one that is less academic. The group chat gets sidetracked and learning is less prevalent.

“It’s just spam of like, who has the highest score,” said senior Karlee Wong.

Because she enrolled in Running Start, Wong is using fewer group chats this year. She noted that in the beginning, the chats were helpful, but only for a short time. After about a month or so, separate group chats evolve for those who are interested in learning, leaving the copycats behind.

While games are not being played, group chats can be beneficial. For example, for students who missed class or were simply not paying attention, they can find out due date, get notes or ask questions about the assignment. Not only that, but the occasional homework help can be useful for students having problems with understanding the work.

Group chats have the potential to be beneficial – if they are used to further one’s learning. However, if students use social media for the sole purpose copying answers, they run the risk of losing out on actually gaining an understanding of the material.

Since teachers have no real way of monitoring a group chat created through social media sites, they can’t ban their students from using them. The only ones who can monitor their usage are the students, and it’s up to them to decide whether it is right for them.