15 thoughts on “i am irrationally enraged by this”

  1. well hopefully they aren’t getting much business, with disclaimers like this:

    “Buying Materials
    Any attempts to redstribute the notes that are sold on this site will be punishable by law. All of our notes are protected by copyright. Neither the owners of this site nor the note providers are not reliable for any harm that might come from it’s use.”

    Misspellings [redstribute], incorrect possessives [it’s use], “not reliable for any harm” – i surely wouldn’t rely on them for a better grade…


  2. also, I think it’s perfectly legit to exchange notes. It’s not the same as cheating, it’s more like studying together.


  3. I bought notes from a service for my intro to sociology class as a freshman. I demolished the curve and finished a few percentage points ahead of everyone else–including, presumably, the note-taker–in a large lecture class. Because the class did not include “the fundamental attribution error” and I was just off the farm and so relatively naive about certain structural facts about sociology and about the University of Iowa, I concluded I must have an unusual aptitude for sociology and this was part of why I decided to take more soc classes.


  4. Here I was assuming that such notes were for the little lord fauntleroy types who simply couldn’t be bothered coming to class. I structure my intro class in such a way that requires regular work. Constant quizzes and writing. The reward stucture is basically, show up, do the reading, pay attention, do well. What is it that Woody Allen said? Seventy percent of success in life is just showing up? But I never thought about note selling. Maybe I should restructure my class…


  5. I thought it was that ninety percent of life was just being there. But I’m too lazy to Google.

    I think of note-selling as leveling the playing field between people who have friends in the class and people who do not. That’s at least the introvert’s justification for not seeing anything ugly with it.


  6. I just Googled it. The quote varies enormously, both in terms of the percentage reported (between 50 and 90) and what he actually says (being there, showing up, etc.). I’d never heard of “being there” but I kinda like it better. To show up requires some initiative. Being there doesn’t necessarily imply that. Which makes it funnier.


  7. I had a huge biology class for non-majors for which entrepreneurs (I think they were biology majors or possibly grad students) sold notes outside the classroom. The notes were much better organized and more complete than the lectures, and if you had to choose, you were better off reading the notes and not going to class than vice versa. The instructor had to announce from the podium that the class notes were not sold by him or available through him.

    I try to make my own class notes available to the students, but I consider notes from lectures to be a different thing entirely from cheating. When I want students to be present in class, I measure attendance directly. After things got out of hand in a large lecture last spring, I added to the syllabus the requirement that their minds be present, not just their bodies (i.e. you can’t be doing something else in class) and that, although I could not promise that I would always have something to say that they did not already know, they had to be “at risk of learning something” in class. This went over pretty well, actually.


  8. at ucla the undergraduate student government has long had an official business in note-taking for large lectures. they allow professors to opt out which left everybody happy. in 1998, give or take, a private firm tried to cover these opt-out classes and there was a big debate between them and the university general counsel about whether a lecture is protected by copyright if the professor delivers it extemporaneously.
    more recently there was a controversy when a conservative young alumnus offered a small bounty for tapes of professors saying objectionable things in lecture. after a great deal of controversy (including several professors resigning from his org’s board and david horowitz distancing himself) he rescinded the offer.


  9. Gabrielrossman: your comment reminded me of something Erik Wright does at Wisconsin – put up podcasts of his lectures. This is no different than posting notes (as olderwoman talks about. I would be much too nervous to do this – not simply because of the kinds of things you mention at UCLA but also because I’d be worried about my lectures being “out there” for all of sociology to hear. When I chatted with Erik about this well over a year ago he maintained that the podcasts did not massively reduce class attendance. What they did was take the pressure off taking notes in a way that students were effectively transcriptionists. It allowed them to listen and absorb. I’m not sure I totally buy this, but it is interesting. But posting such podcasts requires a confidence in yourself that I don’t think I share.


  10. shakha,
    i allow my students to record my lectures from the podium and about 10% of them take me up on it. that way they don’t have to write as fast and i don’t have to worry about absences (which is the only reason i don’t podcast). the thing about colleagues listening in is interesting, it hadn’t really occurred to me though i think i’d be ok with it. (likewise i wasn’t personally worried about the bounty guy as i don’t give partisan lectures).
    very interesting to hear that wright is doing it, i’m looking forward to listening in. from the outline you linked it sounds like a great course.


  11. Most of my classes are small by university standards – 30 at the most – so they’re pretty interactive, and also deal with questions raised by students. We don’t have any organized note-taking sales here that I know of.

    In a little college like mine, it would be a delight to have the student(s) in class who were diligently capturing the material for future sale. They would be better prepared and more organized than the norm.


  12. At the UW in Seattle, note selling was “legal” and, I think, handled by the student government like at UCLA. I never bought notes and was slightly contemptuous of those who did. I agree that those notes were for those aiming for a “C.” However, depending on the quality, they could have made my class time more interesting by requiring less transcription.

    Also, do you really think your colleagues are interested in watching a podcast of your class? Heh.


  13. I think that it is a perfectly reasonable business. I go to Georgetown and personally it helps to have the notes in advance because it helps you structure in advance. Many of my teachers give outlines and such before hand for this reason in particular. I don’t understand why you’re threatened, as long as your class is stimulating you shouldn’t worry about students skipping- that is the real issue not notes for sale. Good for the entrepreneur who started it.


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