Value of note sharing website questioned

With classes back in full swing at Laurier, most students are starting to feel overwhelmed by their heavy workloads.

For many, juggling classes, readings and essay-writing can be a near-impossible feat.

Laurier student Tim Siad is no different. He too has to deal with the stress of a rigorous academic schedule that can make coursework and midterms daunting.

It is for this very reason that Siad has decided to act as the Laurier representative for University Junction, a new endeavor that hopes to change the academic environment.

He describes the website, which was launched at the beginning of September, as “a free online academic activity tool that helps students learn more efficiently.”

University Junction will feature online forums for student discussion on a number of classes; offering notes, online study groups, old assignments and practice tests. “On one hand, I think it has added value to the classroom,” said assistant professor of communications Judith Nicholson. “But it makes me wonder what is lost from classroom discussion,” Nicholson said of note sharing websites.

While it may seem similar to Laurier’s own online student forum, WebCT, the website hopes to connect university students from across North America.

Laurier is among the 119 post-secondary institutions in Canada and the United States that are represented on the website.

The site, which is based solely on student participation, hopes to create resources for a wide variety of courses in a range of faculties.

Siad explains that University Junction will allow a student at Laurier who is taking the same class as a student in Texas to share notes.

Nicholson agrees that sharing ideas is a good idea; however, she is unsure of the value these discussions would have without the full context of the course available.

“I always found the most productive conversations were in reading groups, face-to-face. I don’t really get it,” said Nicholson about the concept of online discussions groups.

In order to register with the website one must visit www.universityjunction.com and create an account with a university e-mail address.

“A lot of people are intrigued [thus far],” said Siad about the website.

Still, he hopes that more students will soon become a part of the University Junction online community.

Since these websites seem to be showing up year after year, Nicholson added that they may not provide any real benefits, questioning how they are any different than Facebook or something less academic based.

“They might fill the need for the person who starts them, whether it’s commercial or personal, but they fall apart after that. They are not really a forum for continued discussion then.”

Siad will be in the Concourse and around campus for the next eight weeks to increase awareness about the website and answer any questions that students may have about University Junction.

–With files from Lauren Millet

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