Students launch website to buy, sell course notes

Julia Doran, Reporter

Northwestern students launched Monday an online marketplace to buy and sell notes and study materials.

NoteShark, created by Medill sophomore Derrick Lee, Weinberg sophomore Russell Marriott  and McCormick sophomore Wyatt Cook sells class notes, study guides, summaries and other study materials created by NU students, said Lee, NoteShark’s strategy lead.

“It really came from the realization that a lot of people have these kinds of materials saved in their laptops just rotting away when they could find more use for them by selling them to someone who would actually need them,” he said.

Lee said the NoteShark team met through NU’s entrepreneurial branch of the Institute for Student Business Education. The trio first thought of the concept after realizing there weren’t tools to help students study large amounts of course content efficiently, he said.

“In high school, there were a lot of resources available like SparkNotes and CliffNotes,” Lee said. “But there’s not really anything comparable for college level courses.”

To purchase materials on NoteShark, buyers select a course listed on the website to reveal what materials are currently available, Lee said. They can then view a preview image and description of the item before adding materials to their cart, purchasing them and downloading the files.

Students who want to submit materials send their notes to the NoteShark team to be edited and approved before becoming available for purchase on the site. Lee said study materials must be reviewed to ensure current, well-organized and high-quality content.

“(Buyers) are going to see that the notes are diligent and they’re very thorough,” said Marriott, NoteShark’s marketing lead.

Marriott said prices vary depending on the length and content of material, averaging roughly $10 for a full set of course notes. He said NoteShark contributors earn half the profit made off their study materials.

Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education, said he doesn’t believe NoteShark violates the University’s academic integrity policy. He said this would only be the case if materials included “intellectual property” directly from a course.

Marriott said the NoteShark team consulted lawyers through The Garage to ensure that their business model did not violate any intellectual property rights. He said slides, notes and other materials distributed by the professors during the course are never sold verbatim.

“We’re not selling professors’ class materials,” he said. “There are no direct copies. It’s all the students’ work.”

Marriott said the site currently features materials from large lecture courses like Introduction to Buddhism and Introduction to Microeconomics. He said they hope to continue adding more courses to the site as the business develops.

Marriott said the site is particularly well-suited for NU’s fast-paced quarter system. He said the notes can ensure students won’t fall behind if they miss a class. Marriott added that NoteShark materials can serve as not only replacements, but also supplements to notes students take during class.

“NoteShark fills void,” he said. “It can be really successful because it makes learning much more efficient.”

Peter Kotecki contributed reporting.

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