Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » THIS IS NOT CHEATING!


Filed at 8:41 am under by dcobranchi

An enterprising group of students(?) at Boston University are buying and selling class notes. BU wants to shut down the business, equating it with cheating.

But at the center of the question is a phenomenon that some college officials say is growing on campuses: organized efforts to skirt the line between studying and cheating. Like online term-paper mills, the company offers to perform work students are expected to do themselves, as a fundamental part of their education.

Not even close. There are all sorts of legitimate reasons why one might be interested in purchasing class notes.

Beantown Notes is not trying to help students too lazy to go to class or take their own notes, but ”people who do go to class but want something else,” Herr said. ”Maybe they have a hard time following the professor, they’re not a good note-taker, or they don’t know which are the most important parts. Everybody falls into that category at some point… What’s the worst that could happen?” he asked. ”Someone could actually learn something and do well on the test. Is that such a bad thing?”

7 Responses to “THIS IS NOT CHEATING!”

Comment by
October 25th, 2003
at 9:03 am

When I was in college, some of the profs would publich the notes for the class and you could buy them from the bookstores. It was very convenient.

Comment by
October 25th, 2003
at 9:21 am

We had an extensive library of old class files in the frat house back in college. (It was SOP for any frat)One guy got lucky and figured out a particular professors pattern for reusing test questions.

Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
October 25th, 2003
at 9:29 am

One of my grad-school profs (Thermodynamics) was famous for throwing completely oddball questions on the cum. He strongly advised all students to get copies of old tests to study. Six weeks and nine tests later, I passed.

Comment by
October 25th, 2003
at 10:03 am

I don’t see what the issue is. When I was in highschool and university, my class notes were always in high demand. They’d get photocopied and circulated all over the place.
Darn it… it never occured to me to charge people for them! :-p

Unlike turning in someone else’s paper, or getting an illegitimate copy of the test, you actually have to *study* the notes.
That’s not cheating!

Comment by
October 25th, 2003
at 11:29 am

At my son’s college they have set up study groups in the dorms on certain evenings for kids to study together share notes & ask upper classmen who are paid by the college & have the subject as a major for expert Advice & help…
& always before midterms & finals the help classes go into details for preparing for the specific course & instructor test reviews…

They don’t give test answers & you do have to study..

They have a helper program for kids that are somehow injured during term… broken arm, leg whatever & they assign a free helper to make sure these students are able to get to class & or even take notes or dictation for students unable to type or write due to injury. Often the helper students are taking education as their major & practice on these student as an internship for working w/ special needs children.

I don’t see them as cheating more as practice being able to use resources & a safety net for freshmen making the transition from high school to college.
Wow a college that actually wants to keep the majority of their frosh students was a welcome change to my college experience that was
“Look left, look right by the end of this year only one of you three will still be here.”

Comment by
October 25th, 2003
at 12:23 pm

Looks to me like BU’s issue is more with “stealing intellectual property” rather than with cheating. Universities like to claim that they own the “products” of faculty labor, i.e., lectures, notes, etc., so that they can be the only ones to profit from them. [For example, the U. could take the prof’s lectures and re-sell them as an on-line class.] This tends to run headlong into the fading principle of “academic freedom,” of course. But is the note-taking business providing a product, or a service?

Comment by
October 25th, 2003
at 1:48 pm

Huh. At my undergrad university, lots of the departments had fairly official note taking classes. (Bio, biochem, psych, more I can’t think of.) You paid 20 bucks and got a copy of the notes for every class a week or so after the class. If you wanted to be one of the notetakers, you got the class notes for free. If you did it more than once, you got paid. Or something along those lines. It never occurred to anyone that this was cheating.
Perhaps because it’s not.