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Online note service hits U of T

Notesolution, a newly released online points-based service allows students to electronically exchange notes with each other. Students earn virtual “credits” for posting their class notes which they can use to purchase others’ notes.

 The service, founded in December 2009 by University of Toronto alumnus Kevin Wu and released at the start of this academic year, has  gained popularity among U of T undergraduates. The site currently boasts over 1,000 registered users and has received positive feedback.

 The University of Toronto Student Union (UTSU), intrigued by the concept and wanting to support the ideas of alumni, formed a partnership with Wu over the summer.

 “I think that there is a clear need for students to have access to as much information as possible for their courses,” said Adam Awas, president of the UTSU. “Given the shortened academic year, it is often difficult to keep up with a full course load, working, and commuting.”

 Wu also cited the difficult transition to university classes as motivation for starting the company.   “Adapting to a new way of life takes its toll,” he said. “I felt there was not enough out-of-classroom course assistance for additional guidance to reach every student.”

  As with McGill’s note-taking clubs (NTCs), there is concern that students will see these services as an alternative to  lecture attendance, and use others’ lecture notes as their only class resource. But Wu said that his service “is not meant to be used as a substitute for regular lecture attendance.” Some students aren’t eager to use others’ notes, though, and instead prefer to rely on what they  picked up from a lecture.

 Victoria Bonar, a U0 Arts student, finds it difficult to imagine depending solely on her peers’ notes.

“During lectures, I just have to write what I’m thinking. It’s immensely valuable to go back and see what ideas I had during lecture, especially when it comes to essay time,” she said. “[However], there are times when the professor is just talking so fast and it’s very easy to miss a point.”  

Students have different learning styles. For some, the physical act of putting pencil to paper helps engrain material into memory and aids comprehension. For others, taking fewer notes during class and sharing notes with classmates later allows for better participation and concentration in class. Notesolution aims to provide a service for the latter group allowing students to collaborate with each other and gain access to supplementary material at exam time.  However, the anonymity associated with posting information online may lead some to doubt the quality of content posted.

 “Some students may be worried that the notes on Notesolution are not the best quality, or written by students who you would not ask if you knew them,” said Gavin Nowlan, president of the University of Toronto Arts and Sciences Student Union. “This could be one of the reasons why students may be wary to join up.”

 Notesolution uses a ratings system, and users rank a poster’s notes upon downloading. These ratings are averaged and displayed alongside a user’s profile and uploads.  Membership to the site is steadily increasing, and the company hopes to expand to universities across Canada in the near future.

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