Cramster founder defends Net studying
UH has the seventh largest registration on the online learning community Web site, Cramster.com.
The Web site is available to answer math and science questions for 6,500 UH students 24-hours a day.
‘Cramster.com simulates study groups. We are no different than sitting in the library,’ Cramster.com Co-founder Aaron Hawkey said. ‘We are more interactive, and we help students who want to get ahead, but are stuck.”
On Cramster.com’s Q-and-A board, students post questions from their homework and receive answers from both students and from the Cramster.com experts.
The Web site also offers a bank of practice exams and lecture notes, step-by-step solutions to questions, from popular math, science and engineering textbooks to a customized quiz generator.
Critics of online study communities say they are a breeding ground for cheating.
‘Students just copy the solution that they get from sites like Cramster.com,’ Center for Academic Support and Assessment tutor Ameen Albadri said. ‘They don’t learn how to do the problems and end up failing the test.’
Albadri said CASA tutors explain problems step-by-step, offer immediate feedback and make sure students understand the questions.
‘We don’t do the students’ homework for them, but we do help students understand the question so they can solve problems themselves,’ Albadri said.
Cramster.com has an anti-cheating policy that states students who are caught using Cramster.com to cheat are permanently banned from the site.
‘We take cheating very seriously,’ Hawkey said.
Cramster.com has a customer service center that responds to educators who think their student is’ using Cramster.com to cheat, Hawkey said.
‘This team helps educators see how their students are using the site, and we usually get back with the educator within one business day,’ Hawkey said.
The Web site has enforced its rules in the four cheating cases of its history, Hawkey said.
Cramster.com has more than 100,000 active members.
Geology junior Amanda Hayes said she uses Cramster.com because it is open when CASA is closed, but one-on-one tutoring might be the best route.
‘Some teachers want to see the problems a certain way, and Cramster.com may not do it that way,’ Hayes said. ‘But Cramster.com has helped me when I was doing homework.’
Pre-nursing freshman Jaimie Thayil said she would use Cramster.com if she is stumped by a question and it is too late to go to CASA.
‘One-on-one tutoring is better because questions are answered quicker,’ Thayil said.’
Hawkey started Cramster.com in 2002 when he graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, with an engineering degree.’
Hawkey left UCLA for a semester. He said when he returned, his friends were taking more advanced classes and he was left studying for tests and homework alone.
‘I created a Web-based program that had practice questions and lecture notes,’ Hawkey said. ‘When I graduated, I put all the information on the Web site and it grew from there, doubling every year.’