BY: MELISSA PERALTA
The instant messaging platform Discord has quickly grown in use in academic environments, including Cypress College since classes have gone online, due strongly in part to its familiarity among students as well as its simplicity of use.
As the world ground to a halt in early 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever people searched for ways to connect, often gravitating towards the internet. Academia was no different, as classes continued through online services like Zoom, Canvas, and Blackboard. Because of the total transition to online classes, students were often left without ways to interact with their peers.
Discord, released in 2015, was created by Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy as a way of connecting online gamers. As said on their website, the technology at the time for the concept was “slow, unreliable, and complex,” so the founders wanted to make something better.
Discord features text and voice chat, as well as video chat. Users have the ability to create servers that can house different chat rooms and channels, all according to the creator’s wishes. The platform quickly grew in popularity, and as stated in their about section, they now have over 150 million monthly active users, and 19 million active servers weekly.
On the college resource page of the Discord website, it is stated that over 200 colleges and universities use Discord, such as the University of Texas Dallas, Rutgers University, and Humboldt University. Cypress College students employ its use as well.
Many classes at Cypress College still currently meet on Zoom, despite there being a number of in-person classes offered. This makes socializing, as well as overall communicating with peers, much more difficult. The use of Discord helps students make up for the loss in face-to-face contact.
Saif Majali, a Cypress College Computer Science major, whose classes only meet online, said, “It’s been a huge help because otherwise, we would only be able to meet with our groups in class, so it made online learning so much more simple.”
Although Canvas makes it possible for students to communicate through their internal messaging system, some students prefer the familiarity and informal nature Discord offers.
Radiology major Mia Sandoval said, “I think that Discord makes it easy to communicate with others rather than social media or the Canvas messaging system.”
The Canvas messaging system resembles that of a typical e-mailing system. Users can generate new messages to be sent to a single person or multiple people on their contact list, which consists of their current and former classmates and teachers.
Discord works more similarly to a chatroom, in which users can send messages within a contained group chat without having to draft a new, contained message each time. All messages are easily available to view without leaving the space to draft new messages. Students often prefer this for interpersonal communication with their peers.
Discord has also noticed students’ growing usage of the platform. Recently, Discord has begun to roll out a new feature called Student Hubs. Through the Student Hub, students can connect with servers used by their classmates by inputting their student email addresses into the Student Hub landing page. There are a limited number of schools with access to this feature, and while Cypress College is not currently included in this list, students are free to put themselves on the waitlist.
BY: MELISSA PERALTA