A Web site that aspires to be the academic equivalent of Facebook.com is gaining popularity across the nation.
GradeGenie.com, a site that allows students to upload class notes and access notes of classmates, officially launched in August 2008 at the University of Missouri. Only seven months later, the site is used on about 2,700 campuses nationwide, and that number keeps growing.
Cary Silverman, the Web site’s creator, said he first got the idea for the site when he was sick with the flu and had to miss class. Silverman, senior in business management at the University of Missouri, didn’t know anyone in his classes and, even after talking to professors, felt like there had to be a better way for him to be able to catch up on the information he missed.
On GradeGenie, students can upload their own files and access files from other users, making it a comprehensive database of student notes and other study materials. The Web site is touted for use as a study supplement for students who attend class and simply want a way to look over their notes and compare them to see if a classmate caught something they missed.
Lauren Beeman, freshman in pre-professional business administration, compared the site to a “huge online study group” and said it helps her look over her notes at the end of the day and review what she learned in different classes.
“I’ve been using GradeGenie for about a month, and it just makes it so much easier to work with other students in my classes without having to deal with the logistics of finding a time and place to meet outside of class,” she said.
While the Web site can be helpful, it does have its downside. Unless other classmates use the site, it is virtually useless as a study tool, and garnering student interest takes time.
“Students need to realize that this is a pay-it-forward type deal — it’s students helping students,” said Erik Wray, freshman in open option. “So you can’t just sit back and expect someone else to put up their notes, you have to be the first one to do it.”
Both Silverman and the site itself make it clear that GradeGenie was not created to promote cheating or skipping class. In the Web site’s “Terms and Conditions,” it states that no copyrighted materials, active test files or audio recordings can be uploaded without the “expressed written consent of the author, speaker or lecturer.”
“GradeGenie is designed to be a study supplement,” Silverman said. “Whether you’re an ‘A’ student or a ‘C’ student, everyone is looking for a way to get more out of their classes, and that’s where GradeGenie comes in. Nothing can replace the value of going to class and taking your own notes, but GradeGenie lets you take learning one step further and allows study wherever you have an Internet connection.”