Hey student! Turn those lecture notes into cash!

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I wrote here recently about the companies exploiting students and profiteering from helping them cheat. In similar vein there seems to have been a significant growth in websites which enable students to sell lecture notes to their fellow students.

This story from last year highlights the popularity of the practice in Australia:

Alastair Weng shares the secrets to his academic success for less than the price of a coffee.

The University of Melbourne science student is among thousands of young Australians who are converting their lecture and textbook notes into cash.
Hundreds of students have paid $3 to access Mr Weng’s neatly formatted biology and chemistry notes, which he uploads on a website called NoteXchange.

“It’s a little bit of pocket money on the side,” the 19-year-old said.

Students trust his work – he achieved a perfect ATAR ranking of 99.95 and receives good marks at university.

“I’m doing this for myself anyway. I may as well spend a few more minutes putting them online,” he said. “It helps students understand some weird concepts.”

There are plenty of other sites too such as this one

and this one:

It really couldn’t be easier.

But is is it all harmless?

I’m sceptical. Whilst clearly there is nothing technically wrong with sharing notes in this way, it really is questionable how beneficial this is ever going to be to the buyer. There is inevitably a possibility that – despite the warnings which some of the sites contain – what is being shared is someone else’s intellectual property.

There is also a dangerous slippery slope from the ‘soft stuff’ like note sharing to buying whole essays. But even if we manage to stop the profiteering of the essay mills, I suspect the sale of lecture notes will be much harder to halt.

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