King's FYP lectures hit blogosphere

Student creates website to share class notes

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Students can find nearly verbatim notes of FYP lectures on the new blog. (Photo: Belinda Alzner)

Braeden Jones has become the unofficial note-taker for students in the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King's College.

Jones, a journalism major and FYP student, launched a blog called FYP This Week at the start of this semester. He uses the website to post all his lecture notes for anyone to access.

Example entries include a 5,000-word lecture on Descartes and a 3,000-word lecture on Hobbes.

"It's a skill that I have," Jones explained. "I type really fast."

The idea for the blog, which is hosted by Tumblr, came when FYP students were studying together for oral exams last month. They found searching for old notes inconvenient and wanted a central place where they could interact with other FYP students.

Jones is known for his note-taking prowess among his peers. Last semester, Jones shared notes with 10 of his friends who then shared them with all of their friends. "I would leave my USB key in Alex Hall and then a few people would be like ‘I read your notes, they're sweet,' and it just happened that way."

Daniel Brandes, acting director of the Foundation Year Programme, heard about the blog last week. As long as the website remains transparent and explicit about its limitations, which Brandes says it has been, the school has no problem.

"Students are free to share notes and they always have been."

But sharing notes has limitations.

Proper use

"I feel ... that there is something lost in sitting yourself down before a set of notes as opposed to a lecture," said Brandes. "I really hope - and the site makes this point too - that students don't take the site as a replacement for attendance in lecture. That would be a serious mistake."

Zeina Jreige, a FYP journalism major, expressed concern when she first heard of the blog on Tuesday.

"It's encouraging people to sleep in" instead of going to class, said Jreige.

Jones addresses this concern and says that laziness would be inefficient, due to how detailed his notes are. "It'll take you three hours to read my notes instead of going to a two-hour lecture."

He intended the site be used by people who missed a lecture because they were sick, who find their notes aren't good enough or who have trouble following along in class. It is not meant to replace lectures and tutorials.

"If people are skipping class because of FYP This Week, then I feel really bad, but that's not what was supposed to happen," Jones said. "FYP moves at a pretty quick pace, (and the blog is) able to slow things down and show you what you're learning."

Last week, Jessica Filoso, a FYP journalism major, was sick and had to miss class. To get notes for the lecture she missed, she consulted FYP This Week. While she doesn't plan on using the blog for notes regularly, she recognizes the value of the site - especially in high-stress times.

"For midterms, if you need to study and you missed something, it's good."

But even as a study supplement, Jreige still feels uncomfortable. She believes that students need to take responsibility for their own learning.

"There's always that chance that they got their stuff wrong, and then your study notes are all wrong."

Visitor disclaimer

The official welcome on the blog, as posted Jan. 13, was updated earlier this week to include various disclaimers. Users were warned that "there are no guarantees of authenticity," and that "it does not in any way replace regular attendance of lectures."

Last month, a number of FYP students were found guilty of plagiarism. This post lets students know that these notes are not to be used as a source for academic essays and shows them where to go to properly reference information they need.

"If someone was to quote my blog, that'd be an issue," Jones said. "I paraphrase. I don't want people quoting it ... especially with what happened with the plagiarism thing."

Brandes agrees. "The program doesn't recommend using the site as the chief resource when preparing your FYP paper."

More than sharing

According to Jones, the site had a few hundred page views within the first few days.

He is intent on making it clear that the blog isn't about him. He has a vision for it that will involve video briefs of FYP material, weekly summaries of lectures and tutorials and a medium where students can ask questions that they weren't able to in class.

"I don't want it to be ‘Braeden's notes,'" Jones said. "I wanted it to be a think-tank ... [where] everyone can kind of contribute and it's just a forum for us to understand FYP together better."

 

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