It is really hard to keep up with the new ‘must-have’ websites and social networks you ought to be involved with at the moment, and 2011 is going to see a whole heap of new ones, as well as existing ones really take off.
The first I just can’t get away from (this week) is called ‘Quora‘, and is effectively a simple question-and-answer site.
“Whatever your question, type it in the search box and, if there isn’t already an answer there, users will pile in and attempt to answer it. Information is organised more like Wikipedia than Google, with answers prioritised by how useful they are, but the site uses Twitter-style following to track the best contributors.”
From the Guardian UK website.
While the comparison to WikiAnswers and Yahoo Answers is not unkind or unfounded, the possible advantage of Quora is that you are expected to use your real name and even link it to Facebook or Twitter accounts (which is really easy to do as you can sign in with your Facebook or Twitter user accounts, which will need authorising through the respective API methods) and Quora is also benefiting from the fact that its rivals have largely abandoned people-based question-and-answer systems.
You want to see it in action, here is a short video explaining it better than I can …
The interface is clean, uncluttered (at the moment), and easy to find your way around:
Quora is also being touted as a scene-stealing platform that will mean the end to blogging and the like (according to TechCrunch anyway) … but we’ll wait and see on that, I’m sure many will have something to say about that (on their blogs no doubt!).
But what of using Quora in learning and teaching? In an effort to find out about this I asked Google “quora in education” and … low and behold, I got a result of the same question posted to Quora – “Would Quora be a good learning tool for middle- and high-school students?” which has the following (edited) items that the author of the question/post thinks are good for education:
- Quora promotes the creation and access of knowledge beyond the classroom. Quora allows students and researchers to access an entire community of “teachers” for different interests (like other social networks, but perhaps more directly)
- Quora can connect students with different communities of mentors and knowledge-owners.
- Quora is currently very intellectual and thoughtful, and also fairly prompt – curious students can post questions and receive good answers very quickly.
But we must also recognise any potential pitfalls in such a system; can we trust the authors not to ‘mess’ with each other and post stupid questions … ? One author that commented on the question said how his 6 year old had him post a question on Quora and the “excitement of seeing other people post great answers quickly … makes learning and curiosity feel like a game.”
Quora is still very new and very small (in comparison) and has yet to reach the critical mass that will really see how well it could be used in education, but it’s potential is certainly there. It’s one I’ll keep an eye on .. what about you?
PS. Here is a resource list for you in my Delicious bookmarks on, or about, Quora (while Delicious still works and I still use it!)