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Student Tools: OneBigU

OneBigU’s slogan says it all, “Answer Questions, Help Darfur.” OneBigU is the brainchild of Eric Cheung, a University of Toronto graduate.

The idea came when I was stuck on an assignment for school. Sure, I could call up a friend or pester them with messages, but why do that?

I was pretty sure I wasn’t the only student in the world to be stuck on this particular problem.

If only there was a place where you could find old and new questions asked by students around the world along with the answers…

Perhaps Eric didn’t find that community, but he is starting to build it. Launching at the beginning of the year, OneBigU’s premise is similar to Yahoo Answers: ask questions and share your knowledge with anyone over the web. However, OneBigU focuses on students, with questions stemming from a student’s homework problems. Anyone is free to post a question without signing up. However, you must sign up in order to answer questions.

Upon answering a question, other members can vote if they believe your answer is correct. Ultimately, the submitter of the question selects a “best answer.” Following this, OneBigU pays the user who submitted the “best answer” as a portion of its ad revenue. The user is then free to either withdraw the funds to their PayPal account or donate the funds to OneBigU’s partner charity, Help Darfur Now (HDN).

HDN is a non-profit organzation geared specifically for students and their families that is dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. It was started by three New Jersey high school students. Currently, HDN has 100 chapters across the US.

Prominently displayed on HDN’s home page are endorsements by the likes of George Clooney, Martin Sheen, and Senator Barrack Obama.


Below you can see the results of my experience with OneBigU.

What Does the Future Hold?

Currently, OneBigU has raised $35, with $25 going towards HDN. It remains to be seen whether OneBigU’s social consciousness will provide enough incentive to attract a larger user base.

One key factor at play would be its existence as an “online study group.” This has recently come under fire in Canada, where the Toronto Star reports that a student at Ryerson University (where I attend), located in Toronto, has been expelled for running a study group in Facebook.

For more info, see Eric’s interview with tech journalist Amber MacArthur, on the commandN video podcast.

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6 Responses to “Student Tools: OneBigU”

  1. Eric says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for writing about OneBigU. I really appreciate it.

    I have also been following the news on the Facebook Study Group. I personally believe that students have always helped each other out, whether it’s over the Internet, or just outside the classroom. Students will continue to do so, regardless of what the verdict is on the Facebook case.

    Thanks again for the review!

  2. Chris Y. says:

    I agree. There shouldn’t be a punishment based solely on the study group being “online” vs. “offline.” If this was to be uniformly enforced, there wouldn’t be a student left on campus.

  3. Ted says:

    Seems sort of like - A Yahoo answers for students. Though this one seems more focused on academics and studying, which I like.

  4. Chris Y. says:


    Thanks for the link. I’ve never seen AnswerU before.

    Reading their “about” page, I noticed that “you can even share questions on Facebook using the “Share on Facebook” feature.”

    You need a “.edu” email address and my university gives us a “.ca”

  5. Daniel says:

    On the .edu topic. Students in the uk have email endings. Not very helpful.

    Good luck to Eric, I’ll be dropping by to see if I can answer any questions.

  6. paulette says:

    Thanks for the info. The only dilema of this is there are some sites giving assitance for free.