Brainly, at its most simple, is a peer-to-peer network of questions and answers. The idea is to help students with homework questions by using others who may have already answered that question.
To be clear, this isn't a set of answers laid out or a group of professionals giving answers. Rather, this is an open forum-style space in which students can post a question and, hopefully, get an answer from the community of others in education.
The platform, unlike some of the competition out there from the likes of Chegg or Preply, is free to use -- although there is a subscription-based ad-free version, but more on that below.
So could Brainly be of use to students right now?
What is Brainly?
Brainly has been around since 2009, but with all that went on in 2020, it saw a massive 75% surge in growth and got more than $80 million in funding and now has 250+ million users. Point being, it's now more useful than ever as it has more people to answer questions and more already populated answers.
Everything is anonymous, allowing users to question and answer with interactions that are safe and secure. This is aimed at a wide range of ages, from middle school right up to college students.
The spectrum of areas covered include traditional subjects such as math, physics, and languages, however it also covers medicine, law, SAT help, advanced placement, and more.
Crucially, everything is moderated by a team of volunteers that includes teachers and other users. This is all an honor code system, which makes it clear that answers must be only published if you have the rights to do so from the textbooks or course material.
How does Brainly work?
Brainly (opens in new tab) is very easy to use as anyone can sign up to get going -- but need not even do that. You can post a question right away to see if there are any answers already available.
When an answer is provided, it is then possible to give a star rating based on the quality of the response. The idea being that it can be easy to find the best answer in a bunch, at a glance. This also lets students build their profile rating so you can spot when an answer is given by someone who is well thought of for giving helpful responses.
The site offers assistance to those answering questions with tips on how to give a helpful response -- not that this is always adhered to, based on some answers you can find on the site.
A leaderboard encourages students to leave answers, as they earn points for giving helpful answers and getting star ratings for better responses. All of which helps to keep the site fresh and the content vital.
What are the best Brainly features?
Brainly uses a green check mark to show answers that have been verified by the Brainly subject experts so you can rely on that as being more accurate than some others might be.
The honor code strictly prohibits cheating and plagiarism, which aims to stop students gaining direct answers to exam questions, for example. Although in reality, the filters in place here don't always seem to catch everything -- at least not right away.
The private chat feature can be a useful way of getting more depth on an answer from another user. Since many answers are top line, and simply speed up the homework process, it's useful to have the option to dig a little deeper.
Teacher and parent accounts can be useful as these allow for a clear view of how students are progressing, with many areas that they struggle with being clear from their search history.
The only major issue is with the answers that are less accurate. But thanks to an ability to upvote answers, this does help to sort the quality from the rest.
All that said, this is very much like Wikipedia, to be taken with a pinch of salt and students should be made aware of this before using the site.
How much does Brainly cost?
Brainly is free to use but also offers a premium version that does away with the ads.
The Free account gets you access to all the questions and answers, and allows parents and teachers to create a paired account so they can see what their young ones are searching.
The Brainly Plus account is charged at $18 every six months or at $24 for the year and will do away with adverts. It also offers access to a Brainly Tutor, charged on top, to give live tutoring in math.
Brainly best tips and tricks
Help to clarify how students should and can be checking their sources from other areas so they're not blindly believing everything they read.
Practice in class
Hold an in-class Q-n-A so that students can see how answers vary wildly even for the same question, based on who is answering it.
Use the leaderboard
Publish a class leaderboard to encourage students to give answers and get ratings on the website, allowing them to learn as they progress.