For students and professors, the days of physically leafing through hundreds of books when conducting research is fading fast, but scholars still face the same essential challenge of finding the best information resources.
Murray Goldberg is seeking to make that search a little bit simpler. He is the creator of Brainify, a social bookmarking site designed to help academics share high-quality resources. Dr. Goldberg is a computer science professor at the University of British Columbia and founder of WebCT.
Brainify, launched in early 2009 after about two years of development, allows users to post academic websites and “tag” them so that others can find relevant information more quickly. Users can also create groups and post questions if the site does not have the information they need. There are many social networking sites, such as Facebook, but they are not as useful in the academic world, says Dr. Goldberg.
“Students are spending a tremendous amount of time on the Web for their studies,” he says. “Every time some student goes to Google to look for something that will help them in their chemistry course, they get the same 18,000 hits that the student before them got.” Brainify will save time and effort when searching for academic websites, he says, while offering users more diverse resources.
Corbin Smyth, who works in student leadership development at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, has been using Brainify for about a month and has already recommended it to students he works with. The site’s impact, he says, will rely on faculty populating the site and spreading the word.
Since its launch, users from about 250 universities have logged onto the site. More than half of them are university faculty members. Dr. Goldberg created a group for his own students and he says other instructors are doing the same. So far, the response has been positive, he says, adding that he foresees Brainify expanding quickly.