Networking in the 21st century certainly is amusing, speaking from a college student’s perspective. From stories on Social medias about the fun times we had at the nearby cafe, to the galore of pictures explaining the travel to the distant land, one never fails to learn something new everyday about our neighborhood. Be it the (never ending) motivational quotes, or the hilarious videos , we find ourselves relaxed when surrounded by means to attain instant gratification.
Yet, the seemingly forever fun time nears the end, and the monthly exams draw close. Suddenly it dawns upon one the vast topics to cover for the test. By this time, the camera roll is filled with pictures of notes and is near impossible to discern one from the rest in time to prepare. Multiple people seek out the same, but unfortunately is buried in millions of chat messages to find later. So what happens next?
We approach the “seemingly” systematic friends, and seek out for help. If you are lucky, you might get it. But the odds are that this person is either busy preparing for the exam or just irritated with the overflow of last minute requests!
By the end of all this confusion, when all the resources finally are attained and the tests are over, we leave behind the past and live on as usual. 30 days later, the cycle repeats, and tension rises high.
I have been in both the shoes, as a seeker for help and an aid to a friend’s needs. It certainly is annoying to know that the information required is very much present in the chat and in our memory system, the only hurdle being that we cannot find it, nor make others keep track of it. It is only by the end of the semester that we realize the functioning of the multi-vibrator was already present on our device, 10 copies or so! That is, if our phone does not run out of space before that.
So what did I do to overcome this collective hurdle?
Something had to be done about this menace, I was certain. Systematic approach was essential to keep track of the resources, where it was and how everyone could find it. Of course, WhatsApp offers several means, like searching the word, or looking in the group documents section, etc. but it was not effective enough for us.
A little background about myself — I am a sophomore in a government college in India, doing my Computer Science Engineering. Our class was active in the WhatsApp group, where we had casual talks and document shared over time. There was no easy way to filter out the valuable information that would get drowned in the 100’s of messages , sometimes of just “Good Evening Guys!!” . So on December 12th, 2016, I made a new WhatsApp group, called “Notifications”. After adding everyone from the class, I informed them to put up important information in this group. Initially, many laughed at the idea, saying essentially it would fail and it was just another group to spam. Many left immediately, not many seemed to align with the purpose of my initiative, and I was left thinking all was in vain.
After our first semester concluded, from the very first day of second semester, I started a new concept of “Today in Brief”, where I wrote a message, giving the rest a gist of what happened that day in college, what all homeworks we had, and what to look out for in the near future.
It took everyone by surprise, because it was detailed enough for them to feel it was read-worthy. I shared it only in the notifications group the first week, to see what the smaller proportion of our class felt. Many took it positively, thanking me and wishing me to continue it. I was really motivated to keep this up, and the next week, I shared it with both the groups. Though many felt it was because I was jobless enough to spare time for this, it felt good knowing that I was able to impact on others in their performance in a positive manner daily. There certainly were days when I did not feel like writing, days when no one acknowledged, days when I felt saturated due to the overload of appreciation from others. Despite the hurdles, many felt good because:
- Absentees could get a gist of what was taught
- Everyone gets an update of the assignments and deadlines
- There was a sense of motivation to work because the task was sorted out
The drawback was I envied them sometimes for having the luxury to go home, open their phone and read, while I had to think deep and encapsulate what I thought was there at the earliest, sometimes during my ride back home. The pressure increased, as people started depending upon me for updates and at times it was annoying to answer so many requests. Of course, there was a proportion of classmates who were efficient enough to manage things on their own, so all this was unnecessary.
Gradually, some of the people who left the notifications group returned, finally seeming to understand the purpose behind it’s existence! I started sharing links and references to what we were studying. Some considered it Spam, while others found it useful. Mixed opinion followed my contributions. Of course, I was (and am still) being called a nerd, but hey! if other’s gained from it, I see no issues in it. Repeated sharing significantly decreased over time as people now knew where to refer to find it. But I still had to share on both groups, as the main class group had everyone while the notifications group was easier to find later. Like
Wait a minute… Does not Telegram have such features?
10 months after I came up with this idea, I find out that Telegram had a feature exactly aligned with my needs. In this messaging app, unlike WhatsApp, you could start a “Channel” where the admin speaks , while the rest can only read. This significantly reduces the possibility of spam from other’s, and condenses to only what is necessary to inform others. Now that I know this, maybe I’ll try to get everyone to join Telegram and subscribe to the channel.
Also, Telegram has the amazing feature of bots. You could use pr-existing bots to do various functions, like download sounds, get news updates etc. Infact you can even make your own bot! (want to know how? Read this great article: How to make a bot on Telegram)
I have plans in the future on how to enhance the communication of important information with my classmates:
- Urging everyone to join Telegram for updates: The various functionalities designed in this app enables one to share content in the most user friendly manner, and it will certainly help in maintaining important information over a long period of time.
- An Exclusive bot for class quires: making a bot that classmates can interact with, maybe ask simple doubts and quires instead of directly asking me (I have no idea yet regarding how bots work, but I am motivated to learn for the betterment of my classmate’s progress), thus saving me from repetitive questions.
- Regular backup of notes on cloud platform: Since most of my friends clear their WhatsApp messages due to space shortage, they lose the content despite having the exclusive group for notifications. It would prove to be beneficial on the long run to upload the important documents on an online platform like Google drive, or Dropbox from which anyone can access anytime (this is the age of computing… who needs actual hard drives these days! :) )
- Forming a team of like minded people who wish to help the class: This way, my dream to reap the benefits of my own initiatives will becomes true! By taking turns in doing the task, we all feel relaxed and prepared to enhance the productivity of the group at anytime.
Recently, I have observed classmates having difficulty paying attention to what is being taught. The only way to customize to ones needs is to understand his problems. So I plan to create a survey form to see what each one of my classmate is having trouble in, and try to find means to overcome it.
So what does it all come down to?
Are you in need for a mean to overcome spam overload? Do you endure the same hurdles I faced? Do you have a better solution? Let me know in the comment section what you feel in this regard. Maybe someone else has already faced this issue in the past, and has established a better mean to overcome it. One never knows until the thoughts speak out open. Hope you gained something out of this article.
One last tip : Progress occurs when you stop seeking advices and start adopting what you already know. Experience is one of life’s best teachers.
PS: If you are new to study-hacks, I highly recommend watching Mr.Thomas Frank’s videos on YouTube: Thomas Frank’s Channel