Student startup makes it easy to trade class notes for cash

Two university students have created Classfeed, a website where fellow students can upload their class notes and earn money for every download by other students who may have missed a class or want extra information for study purposes.

Wilfrid Laurier students launched Classfeed in time for fall semester

Students at Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo can earn money by posting their class notes online, but it's up to the students to ensure the notes are accurate and don't plagarize a professor's documents. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Two Wilfrid Laurier University students have created a website that pays fellow students for the notes they take in class.

Roman Grod and Martin Lebed launched Classfeed in time for the fall semester. Students can post their class notes to the website so that their classmates can download them for a fee.

"We're giving the students the opportunity to make money for going to class," Grod said in an interview Friday on The Morning Edition with host Craig Norris.

But, he added, the system is not meant to encourage anyone from skipping class.

"It's about having something else to compare your own notes to or even something for that day you're not feeling well or you can't be at class that day," he said.

Misconduct or ingenuity?

Currently the website is open to students at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.

Sharing notes is nothing new, but some have questioned the ethics of selling them. On its website, the academic integrity office at the University of Waterloo states that students are guilty of misconduct if they post a "professor's lecture notes, presentation slides, assignments, exams/quizzes, answer keys, pages or excerpts from textbooks and/or any other material you receive in class or via the learning management system to note sharing websites."

The school lists OneClass, Book Neto and Course Hero as examples of note sharing sites.

But Grod said it's their understanding that if students take their own notes and don't directly copy a professor's powerpoint slides, then they're allowed to share the notes.

In a statement sent to CBC News, Laurier said the best way for students to learn is to be in the classroom.

"We understand that students are resourceful in helping each other keep up with their studies, but we note that students need to ensure they are not infringing intellectual property rights by selling content created by an instructor or someone else without consent," the statement said.
Laurier says the best way for students to learn is to be in the classroom, not learning from the notes of others. The students behind Classfeed say the service is to help students compare notes for studying purposes or to allow someone who was maybe sick to get notes from a class. It's not meant to be a tool to help students skip class. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Easier for students

Grod said that in high school it's easy to make up for lost time, because you often know most of your classmates and you know who to ask for notes.

University is different, because "you only know six or seven people in your class out of 1,200 or if you don't know anyone in your class, it's hard to find a set of notes."

"So we thought, we want to make the student studying process as simple as possible," he said.

With Classfeed, all a student has to do is create an account and upload their notes.

The notes are approved for quality, but Grod admitted they can't be 100 per cent sure the notes aren't plagarized. In the end, each student is responsible for his or her own notes.

Other students can then download the notes for a fee. The cost varies – around exam time, some notes could be as pricey as $9 a download. 

A percentage of every sale goes to the note taker and a percentage goes to Grod and Lebed.


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