With fall looming on the horizon, students of all ages are getting ready to return to their classrooms. Some of these will be real, physical rooms you can feel and smell, while others will be nothing but boxes on laptops and mobile screens, but every one of them represents the chance to learn, grow, and explore. […]
With fall looming on the horizon, students of all ages are getting ready to return to their classrooms. Some of these will be real, physical rooms you can feel and smell, while others will be nothing but boxes on laptops and mobile screens, but every one of them represents the chance to learn, grow, and explore.
That’s why we’re getting into the spirit by sharing eight Discord communities with a focus on education. Some are general study servers where you can learn with all-new friends, while others focus on a specific field or subject. (You may even see a familiar face from our Earth Day blog!) If you’re bearing up for a tough courseload, or just hoping to stack a few new textbooks on your desk, read on!
Human Geography is a field of study that focuses on the processes that shape the lives and interactions of people, places, and nature. If you think about it, a Discord server is the perfect place to study all of those things.
It appears that Mr. Sinn, a high school teacher with over 76K subscribers on YouTube, came to the same conclusion. He wanted to take his traditional teaching methods further and create a community for students to learn and interact in. With a little work and a lot of passion, he’s ended up with a partnered Discord server that hosts over 6,500 members. His classroom numbers are in the thousands, and Mr. Sinn couldn’t be more pleased.
Giving us the tour, he explains: “The server has dedicated channels for study tips, resources, daily review questions, and unit-specific channels to make sure that you can find what you need to excel in your class. We also host study nights, Q&As, and of course some game nights to allow for people to relax and get to know each other.”
He only has one regret: not starting his community sooner. For him, getting over the learning curve was the key: if you’re looking to start a server of your own, Mr. Sinn recommends spending time getting to know the platform first. But from a teacher of human geography, what would you expect but a careful study of the community?
If you’re looking to join Mr. Sinn’s classroom, there’s always a slightly-too-small desk waiting for you.
The Biocord server is about everything biological, from basic cells and structures to cutting-edge research and experimentation. Its founder, Anshit, made sure to foster an extremely diverse community of biologists at all skill levels and degrees of education. When you join, you’re encouraged to share what particular field of biology interests you the most, which will help individuals in similar fields and at similar levels of knowledge find you. It’s a good way to get a round-table discussion going, catch up on the latest papers, or just post inside jokes about cell mitosis..
In addition to helping peers connect, the Biocord server regularly hosts lectures and talks from leading scientists and educators in their respective fields — including someone who won a Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine in 2013! That’s an opportunity people used to fly halfway across the world and stay at a big beige convention center for, now available from the comfort of your own computer chair.
As a scientist himself, Anshit regularly consults the more senior members of the server and develops new ways to approach research through their help. “My day job as a scientist is much easier because of the community at Biocord!”
If the Biocord community can help a real scientist do their job even better, it’s guaranteed to be a trusty resource to keep on hand as a student. The one-stop-shop for everything Biology awaits!
While direct action is a great way to preserve the environment, learning more about the complicated and sometimes counterintuitive ways your local ecology works can be just as important. Kam, leader of the Intellectual Minds of Ecology and Zoology server, started his community to foster a group of people striving to learn about environmental sciences in a semi-casual and productive environment.
Whether you’re hoping for someone to talk to about a science class, an activist interested in learning more about ways to help out, or just a zoology fan looking for more friends to chat about dik-diks with, long-time members will try their best to connect you with like-minded people. Kam gives an example: “If someone joins and is interested in wildlife conservation, we try to connect them to a member who studies or works in that field, or to a channel where they can engage in a conversation with other interested members.”
Throughout his time helping out in the community, Kam himself has gained a deeper understanding of how wildlife conservation is done. “My server has shown me the difficulties and complexities that are involved in conservation, and provided me with a wealth of new knowledge and connections with experts in many environmental science fields.” If that’s the kind of perspective you’re looking for, the Intellectual Minds of Ecology and Zoology are there to help.
Hara built a big following of knowledge-hungry fans with her Instagram account, @hara.studies. She did her best to keep up with everyone reaching out to her for info or advice, but when it became too logistically tricky to keep up, she decided to start her own community server: the Studygram Community.
Studygram is a place where students around the world meet up for inspiration, motivation, and a limitless supply of study partners. The Studygram community loves to share their knowledge in every way they can, offering a variety of resources to all students: study apps, desk setups, tech, and stationery recommendations, you name it.
Hara didn’t expect the server to take off the way it did, but she’s certainly pleased with the results. “When I created this community and saw how different it was, how students who don’t even know each other offer knowledge and experience they have to help another to succeed, made me so glad that I found this community and brought together all these amazing people.”
While her server’s main focus is about the Student Community from Instagram, Studygram has plenty of non-study channels where members share pet photos, movies, video games, anime, kdrama, kpop, music, and any other hobbies they share. If studying’s got you down, the server even has its own dedicated team of Mental Health Advocates who give time to members who need support, motivation, or just a friendly ear.
For those starting their own study communities, Hara says not to focus on the numbers, but focus on supporting your members. “When I created this server, I didn’t mind that I only had a few members as long as I was there to help them out and influence the others to help as well. Creating a community is never about the number but the purpose. Find your server’s purpose and start building from there!”
Becoming a healthcare professional isn’t easy, and one of the many daunting steps involved is passing the Medical College Admissions Test. The more time and resources you have to prepare, the better off you’ll be. That’s why Shrooberry saw a need for an accessible all-inclusive study resource that anyone could become part of.
“We envisioned a place where equality of study opportunities existed for everyone regardless of their background or income level,” explained Shrooberry. “As students, we can’t control certain costs such as the exam fees however we can build a server that would decrease the cost barrier to studying for the exam, which is around $1,000 if you purchase the bare minimum books and practice exams to upwards of $20,000 if you purchase a prep course. We believe everyone deserves an equal chance when it comes to building their career.”
That’s why the MCAT server covers everything a prospective medical student could possibly need. In addition to channels for focusing on the exam and its structure, there are places to discuss everything there is to know about premedical fields. Whether you’re looking to brush up on advanced biology or the principles of sociology, the MCAT server has places to drill down on every aspect of medicine. As Shrooberry puts it, there’s really no level of knowledge you can have where there’s nothing an MCAT user can teach you. “It sounds cliche, however healthcare is a beautifully evolving field and if you keep your eyes open, you will learn something new daily.”
If that something you’re hoping to learn is how to run a server as successful as hers, Shrooberry has some advice for you that’s anything but clinical. “Focus on building the community, friendships, trust, and common interests. Don’t worry too much about growth. You would be surprised how many big servers have only a small fraction of their members active. The friendships, memories, and inside jokes are what make a community appealing.”
Looking to start a career in medicine, brush up on your science skills, or just study with some extremely accomplished medical professionals? The MCAT server’s doors are always open.
While Discord abounds with places to discuss philosophy, community member Watashi noticed they all had something in common: they placed their focus on head-to-head debating, not academic study. That’s why he and a team of admins set about to create an all-new, inclusive space for posing questions and studying topics together: the Philosophy Café, one of the few communities that are equally prepared to talk over their favorite Wittgenstein essay and Wittgenstein emoji.
A lot of thought went into structuring the Philosophy Café as a welcoming, nurturing resource for students of philosophy. As Watashi explains, “We have an entire section of the server made for newcomers where they can answer the question of the week to dip their toes into philosophy with everyone else, ask a question they have about a philosophical problem, or work in the quick questions channel, ask for advice on if and how to get into academic philosophy in our professional development channel, and we also have an extensive reading list made specifically for those who are brand new to philosophy.” No matter your level of expertise, you’ve got a home somewhere.
Unlike other philosophy servers, whose channels serve primarily to quarantine a few unending debates into their proper homes, the structure of the Café is all about giving you the help you need most. “If you have an ethics course this quarter or semester, our ethics channel will become your best friend. If you’re lucky enough to get into a more specific type of course like say a course on Deleuze, Nietzsche, or Frege, then our Deleuze, Nietzsche, or Analytic reading groups will be your other best friends. Our professional development channel will especially be of help if you have questions about GPA, letters of rec, difficult professors, learning to read and write in philosophy, etc.”
Whether you’re holding court in the Café or looking into hosting your own server, Watashi has some good all-purpose suggestions: “Have patience. Getting angry with people publicly, even trolls, won’t go well with your community. It’ll make everyone feel tense, among other things. It’s best to hold your tongue and reflect as best you can on what’s going on.”
Pretty smart advice. But then again, he’s a philosopher.
Like so many other thriving Discord servers, Nicole’s BreadFam came about because its creator needed a place to engage with her community. A successful personal finance YouTuber, Nicole hoped to found a space where she could connect with her followers on topics of money management, investment, and self-development. But as time went on, she was pleased to witness the community took on a thriving life of its own: rather than just discussing her tips, they were learning from and sharing with one another. “I believed that being part of a community was beneficial in motivating people in working towards their goals, so I wanted to cultivate that kind of digital support system.”
While Nicole’s subject matter isn’t exactly common in most curriculums, she and her community approach personal finance with the same rigor and studiousness as any academic. In addition to a library of resources and a voice channel for studying together, BreadFam provides a channel for sharing resources, book recommendations, and other useful info with one another. And hey — if you’re headed back to school, odds are a penny saved here and there won’t go amiss. (Ramen, anyone?)
While BreadFam has flourished, it didn’t get that way all on its own. Nicole has some words of advice for any server owners trying to get a new space off the ground: “I would say that my biggest advice would be to focus on community engagement and taking the time to get to know the members of your server. I remember early on when our server only had less than 30 members, several days would go by when the server was completely silent. No one really chatted in the channels, so I made the daily effort to always greet everyone and try kick-starting conversations. I would send gifs to quiet channels and I would welcome everyone who joined and asked them about their day. Now, the server has grown to about 7k members and is active 24/7. While some of the growth is caused by my own channel growth, I don’t think the server would be as lively if we didn’t establish the “culture” we have now early on.”
Just like building a small business: it’s all about making connections. You can make yours in Nicole’s BreadFam now.
Everyone has their ways of staying motivated during lockdown, whether it’s deliberately getting bored enough to do your work or binge-watching every show at once to keep them from distracting you later. But you know what’s more effective than either? Sticking together to help each other focus. That’s what Blair, the founder of Blairs Brainiacs, discovered, and that’s why her server and its many 24-hour study resources are attracting students from all around the world.
Though her community followed her from a series of study streams on TikTok, Blairs Brainiacs isn’t just a fan community. It’s become one of the UK’s largest education-based servers of any kind, staffed by a team of 90 volunteers who work around the clock to give students from their early teens to their adults the resources they require. As she explains: “together we provide motivation, study advice, information, notes, exam questions/papers, entertainment, and much more!” For fans of useful bots, the “much more” includes a study bot that records how much time you spend studying in a channel and converts it to points — and then puts you on a leaderboard. How’s that for a reason to stay motivated?
Another unique service Blairs Brainiacs offers: mentors for specific topics. “The subject mentors for each subject are planning to do ‘taster sessions’ and teach a lesson which will go over the content that they expect will be covered in the first lessons of the new academic year. The aim of this is to help students feel more comfortable and confident academically when they arrive back at school but our additional goal is to bring students together who can hopefully support each other immediately after the event with a few well-placed discussion leaders.” In other words, it’s about shoring up your weaknesses by relying on the strengths of one another.
Which is why Blair ends with this advice for anyone interested in forming their own server: “Make sure you listen to your members, they have brilliant ideas and often see the server from other points of view or at different times. Often they can offer really useful insight on things! Using mod mail bots or having a “server suggestions” channel can also help you grow a fantastic server!”
For international 24-hour study support, you know where to go: Blairs Brainiacs.
Studying doesn’t have to be a chore. Whatever the subject, these communities all offer ways to share the burdens and joys of learning with students, educators, and curious-minded folks everywhere.
In addition to this blog post, you’ll be able to learn more about three of these communities in a special video over on Instagram. Hop on over to the Discord Instagram page to check ’em out soon!
Looking to start your own education-focused server? For instructors looking to make a home on Discord for their students, check out our “How to use Discord for your classroom” blog post. For students looking to start a server as a new home for the class, check out a few of our past spotlights involving the University of Texas, Dallas, and UC Berkeley.
Eight Educational Communities To Further Your Field of Study was originally published in Discord Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.