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Online class notes stir debatenationwide

Nov. 5, 1999

By CHRISTIE SMITH.

Reporter

Controversy from professors around the country is heating up as students are embracing the concept of Versity.com, an online 'knowledge center' that collects lecture notes from colleges across the U.S. and publishes them on the World Wide Web.

According to the Web site's mission statement, 'Versity.com aims to be the primary destination site of college students by understanding the desires and values of current and future students and delivering useful study tools to the Versity academic family.'

The site, which boasts top quality lecture notes for more than 3,500 classes on 88 campuses, includes 90 classes from Texas A&M University and 93 classes from the University of Texas at Austin.

Baylor is also on the list with approximately 17 classes that highlight the themes and ideas from classes such as accounting, biology, marketing and philosophy.

Even though universities such as Harvard have banned the sale of lecture notes, students continue to sell their material for approximately $8 per lecture.

Dr. Helen Ligon, emeritus professor of Information Systems, uses PowerPoint slides that are then downloaded and serve as an outline to help her students study better.

'The main purpose of the notes on the Web is so students will not have to frantically write down every word that is said, and it is an excellent study tool to review the chapters,' Ligon said.

However she does not agree with the concept of Versity.com.

'I don't think it is right for students to sell the notes on the Web,' Ligon said. 'My students can download the outlines, but they still have to follow the outline in class and take additional notes.'

Dr. Don Bradley, lecturer for sociology, sees the positive and negative aspects of the Web site.

'I generally think it's a shame if students use that as a substitute for going to class,' Bradley said. 'I wouldn't say it's a good idea, but it's one of those things that could be used or abused.'

According to Leah Martin, a Bowie junior, the idea of Versity.com is not acceptable for college students.

'I think it is morally wrong, because in a way you are cheating,' Martin said. 'That is just being lazy, and I am surprised that it would be allowed.'

According to the Harvard Crimson, although the lecture notes on the Web site are free, professors from around the country are warning students that the notes may not prove helpful or even accurate. Many say students who go to every class and take their own notes will be more involved in their courses and are more likely to do better.