As the semester starts to end, class attendance will drop as students become busier and generally care less if they miss a lecture or two. Having tests based on lecture notes makes it hard for some students to skip class. Skippers have to find someone else with trustworthy notes or accept a possible point deduction on the exam. Attending class is necessary as long as note sharing is a hassle.
Now there’s GoodSemester, a social education website that allows students to upload and share notes for any class. Open in beta, anyone can create an account. From there, GoodSemester allows students and instructors to post resources and communicate with one another. It’s a mashup of social tools and classroom dynamics that has become the standard among startups looking to disrupt education. The notes database is what sets GoodSemester apart from other competitors.
Registration for GoodSemester is free, and anyone can log on and join groups to see and upload notes for specific classes. Being open allows the company to create a database of notes for any class at any school. GoodSemester wants to be able to offer every course to any user, opening education to everyone. Ithaca College students could browse politics notes from other colleges as well as relevant materials for the classes they’re currently enrolled in here.
The big issue GoodSemester faces is quality control. Lecture notes often reflect the student’s own understanding. Anyone outside of that specific class may have a hard time comprehending the notes. As the service grows, GoodSemester has to find a way to help users sort through worthless notes to find the beneficial ones. If it doesn’t figure it out fast, another startup will take their idea and do it better.
The note-sharing feature could hurt GoodSemester. Schools may see a drop in class attendance if students utilize the service. If one student is taking solid notes and uploading them, then other students may slack off and skip class more frequently. Professors would need to tailor their classes so students rely less on note taking and keep coming to the classroom.
GoodSemester’s social aspects and design are strong, but the company’s high hopes for note sharing may be too much. An open database of notes isn’t going to be the solution most students are looking for when they want to learn a topic or just skip class. Another network that lets users pick trusted sources will prove more dangerous to professors who rely on note taking as a classroom dynamic. Though GoodSemester may not be the winning solution for note sharing, be sure another service will find a way to capitalize on the note market.
TJ Gunther is a senior journalism major. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.