Mobile Q&A App for Students Adds Teacher-Verified Answers

Answer Underground, a mobile Q&A service targeting academia, revealed a new feature that enables educators to verify user-generated content.  This latest addition will save students precious time that would have been otherwise spent on browsing unreliable responses to their posted queries.

“Collaboration is fundamental to the education experience. The nature of how our society functions through collaboration and in this mobile age, it’s intertwined through technology. We’re delighted to introduce verified academic accounts to our iPad application. This is just the first of several tools and upgrades we plan to deliver to our community that is focused on increasing academic empowerment,” stated Sallie Severns, Answer Underground’s Founder and CEO.

The feature is only available on the iPad version of the app for now, but it will likely be made available on the other versions of the service in the near future.  It works by marking questions that have yet to be verified by an academic professional or teacher, creating a queue of user-generated “answers” that can be quickly and easily validated.

I’m glad Answer Underground took measures to incorporate this verification process, because validating sources is perhaps one of the most complex but necessary developments in our user-generated world of web content.  Sites like Quora and Wikipedia all have their own methods of enabling a collaborative data cleansing mechanism, and Answer Underground needed its own, due to the specific nature of its education-related service.

Answer Underground has experienced tremendous growth since its launch in May 2012, and not just in the sheer number of users. The startup says that 45 percent of users spend over 30 minutes in the application, and 63 percent access the app at least twice a day. Overall retention rates have increased by 80 percent, thanks in great part to the snowballing effect that a service based on user-generated content naturally benefits from.

Another nod to its growth is the focus on mobile.  Answer Underground is strictly a mobile app, with no web version in sight.  It seems students these days are significantly more engaging with their smartphones and tablets than laptops.  The result is a mobile-centric design for Answer Underground, incorporating push notifications and custom alerts for students and teachers.

Paying attention to user needs has also kept this mobile-centric service nimble, which is crucial in the startup’s early days.  “We’re able to add these features so quickly because we talk with students and educators so regularly,” says Severns.

In the spirit of learning, we asked Severns to share the things, places and people that make her smarter.  She even sent us a photo of her nightstand’s stack of on-hand books, which she reads when she can’t fall asleep.  See Severns’ full list below, and be inspired!


8 Things That Make Sallie Severns Smarter

1. Books. I have a small mountain of business and motivational books that I keep on my dresser. When I can’t sleep, I pick up one of the books and re-read passages. I cannot read Steve Jobs book enough times!

 2. My iPhone. I have dozens of apps that I use on a daily basis. I particularly like the TedX app and view lectures from great business leaders.

 3. Twitter. Following smart people of Twitter is a great way to improve my knowledge base on an on-going basis.

 4. My Journal. I make it a point to jot down great ideas, quotes, projects that interest me. I like to re-read them.

 5. Meditation. I take 20 minutes out of my day to simply sit and meditate. It’s quite challenging to clear one’s thoughts completely and make way for open space to allow new ideas to enter. It’s more challenging than it sounds, but I make an effort.

 6. Connecting. I speak with at least 20 people every week. I enjoy connecting, being a connector and this also keeps the learning curve high.

 7. Silicon Valley walking trails. Stanford Dish and Rancho San Antonio are two favorites. I enjoy Open Space Preserves and getting outdoors.

 8. “On The Money” with Maria Bartiromo is my Sunday guilty pleasure.