There are many resources on the Internet for students to access notes and study materials to assist in their classes, but commercial sites such as GradeBuddy have been reported by students and faculty as misleading.
GradeBuddy identifies students in specific classes and hires them as note-takers and upload lecture notes to the site, according to Elaine Green, director of academic integrity. Students can register on GradeBuddy and purchase these notes and study guides.
Note-takers are also required to create and upload a study guide before every test and then publicize the study guides and notes to their classmates.
“This is where we’re running into some problems,” Green said.
Green said she has proof that GradeBuddy tells their note-takers to send an announcement through RamCT using the class email list to tell their classmates that they have created a study guide for the exam and they can find it on GradeBuddy. This violates the University Solicitation Policy.
“It’s against University rules to use a class asset, so the class email list, to advertise for a commercial thing,” Green said.
Professor Lisa Angeloni had a student in her BZ220 class begin to post notes from the class to GradeBuddy for sale. Angeloni said she explained to the student that she was not comfortable having her class notes posted for sale online.
Angeloni said the student told her that GradeBuddy advised her to use the RamCT email to advertise the posted notes on GradeBuddy, even though that is against Colorado State University policy.
Green said that the way GradeBuddy presents the notes and study guides to students can be misleading.
“When it comes through the course list, it looks like it’s something official from the University,” Green said.
Professor Janice Moore had experience with GradeBuddy earlier this semester in her animal behaviors class, BZ300. A student sent an email through Canvas advertising for a study guide they posted on GradeBuddy.
“At least a couple of students emailed me and thought that I was actually selling my notes and study guides online,” Moore said. “They have my name prominently displayed, even though I didn’t even know this was happening.”
The professor’s name appears at the top of the notes or study guide on the GradeBuddy website to identify the section of the class, according to Green. This creates confusion because it looks like the professor may have published the notes.
“It really makes students think that, here they are paying for a class and my professor is asking me to pay 20 bucks for their study guide,’” Green said.
Moore said, if she had not seen the email and notified her students that this is not her study guide, they would think she was selling notes in addition to teaching the class.
“I would hate to see a student who took something that was on a study guide and put the exact same thing on a test and it was wrong,” Green said.
Angeloni said she contacted GradeBuddy to take down the notes that the student had already posted, and after contacting GradeBuddy twice via email, the notes were removed.
“The person I spoke to over email, we never spoke on the phone, apologized that they weren’t removed the first time I asked, but said that was an oversight,” Angeloni said. “And then he removed them the second time I asked.”
According to the GradeBuddy website, “all content must be independently created, transformative and non-derivative. It should not be a transcript or recording.”
Angeloni said the student in her class told her to take direct lecture notes.
Green said copyright violations are possible when students are creating these study guides because students will take the study guide questions from the book, add their own answers and put that in the study guide they post. This is an issue because the students are copying the questions from the book without proper permission.
Moore said she suspects there might be copyright issues with using GradeBuddy, especially if a professor has copyrighted their class materials.
“What I noticed on the bottom of one of the GradeBuddy (pages) was that it was copyright by GradeBuddy,” Moore said.
Moore said students should veer away from Gradebuddy and similar sites, and instead use their professors and other students as a resource instead.
“That just angers me,” Moore said. “I find this really horrible.”
Collegian City Beat Reporter Sady Swanson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan.