A new campus enterprise could give students more options for acquiring notes when they miss a class.
TakeNote, the newest division of the student entrepreneurial group Campus Enterprises, allows students to buy sets of notes for their classes. The program began servicing its first class this semester, with a note taker sitting in on economics professor Lori Leachman’s Economics 101 course.
“The idea behind TakeNote is to answer the question ‘As a student, do I listen to the professor and engage the material and internalize what’s being taught or do I… hurriedly write down as much as I possibly can?’” said junior Harrison Richard, who runs TakeNote. “It’s a much more enjoyable experience to have a dialogue or conversation and to listen intently rather than scribble.”
The venture has begun reaching out to other Duke students to become note takers, as seen by a post on the All Duke Facebook page.
“We are looking for a team of three note takers,” read the post, which was written by junior Tom Garrambone, one of the leaders of the project. “We will pay a rate of $25 a class for you to simply take down neat, comprehensive notes!”
Campus Enterprises runs other sectors on campus, such as Laundrymen—a door-to-door laundry and dry cleaning service. It is a Limited Liability Corporation registered with the state of North Carolina. Each of the group’s 42 members are shareholders in the company, which recruits and vets 14 new freshman each year. The new members buy out graduating seniors to the tune of $9,000 each.
“We generate close to half a million in revenues,” Garrambone said. “No one quite understands how robust we are.”
Administrators met with the TakeNote founders last spring and found it was not in violation of the Duke Honor Code.
“It’s not that they have approval, but that the administrators are neutral,” said Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost of undergraduate education.
Nowicki noted that the key condition is that professors give explicit permission.
“When I talked to [Campus Enterprises] late last semester, I expressed that it was between them and the professors,” he said. “If a professor thinks it’s valuable for their student, they’ll do it, and if they think that it isn’t, they won’t.”
Leachman said she allowed the program in her classroom to give students additional help.
“If this makes them feel more secure and confident, I’m going to give it a go,” she said.
TakeNote just hit its second week on campus and Campus Enterprises’ executives are pleased with its progress, although they declined to disclose how much money they made.
Richard noted, however, that when he sold copies of the notes Friday, the line was so long people started to leave.
An email from Richard to the students of Econ 101 stated that they are planning to sell packs of all notes taken before each midterm.
“There’s a student who has already gotten an A in the class, knows what material is important and I can focus on the material in class and know that I have a good set of solid notes to fall back on,” Garrambone said.
Others are more skeptical of the benefits of the service.
“It’s just like recording the lecture,” Leachman said. “In my opinion, note taking is filtered through the bias of the note taker.”
Sophomore Maggie Marks, who bought a copy of the notes last Friday, said that though she thought they would be helpful for students who missed class and needed to know what to cover, the notes didn’t go into much depth.
“They were advertised as an alternative to furiously scribbling down everything the professor says, so that you could engage more with the lecture,” Marks said. “But they’re not very detailed, so they won’t get you far if you’re trying to understand a difficult concept. You’re better off writing down whatever the professor says so you can use it later to understand the material.”
Richard emphasized the notes are meant as an aid, and not a replacement for the course.
“Going to class and actively participating is always going to be the best way to learn,” Nowicki said. “Students who think that because they can buy notes they don’t need to go to class… are screwing themselves.”