Mini-guide* for students to share online educational content

How do I share my notes "cleanly"?

1. Go for free, avoid monetization

The notes, summaries, diagrams, podcasts and other summary tables drawn up and shared by students themselves, as a free complement to traditional media, have become a central element of access to success - and hence to study - which universities do their utmost to promote. It is therefore important that such documents continue to be shared in a spirit of mutual aid and disinterestedness.

For this reason, we ask you to avoid publishing a document on a platform if you find that it monetizes the productions of others. The generalization of a system where students sell their grades would only accentuate the existing social gaps between them, and would therefore constitute a real "step backwards" from the point of view of equal access to studies.

2. Share your documents "privately" or in a closed circle

While public sharing can be problematic, private sharing is widely accepted as common practice in academic circles. For example, sharing notes and summaries on private social networking groups - i.e. those dedicated to (free) mutual assistance between students attending your courses and only accessible to them via a membership request system, for example - does not constitute a prohibited act of communication to the public, so that, under the exception of reproduction and communication for research or teaching purposes, the possible reproduction of copyright-protected documents can be tolerated.

Consulting your teacher (see next point) is a good practice before sharing.

3. Consult the teacher concerned

If you do decide to publish documents on a public platform - i.e. one that is accessible to everyone without a filter - we recommend that you speak to the teacher concerned beforehand, for two reasons:

  • Even if your production contains only generic information, it is difficult, given your status as a student and your limited expertise, to argue that you have not relied heavily on the training you have undergone. Professors may therefore rightly be concerned about a possible violation of their rights if they happen to discover such a publication on the Internet. Establishing a dialogue beforehand will help avoid any misunderstandings in this respect.
  • In addition to their rights, teachers also have pedagogical concerns linked to the organization of their learning methodology. When composing their courses, teachers make choices about the content and methods they consider most appropriate for transmitting their knowledge. The integration of parallel media, such as student summaries or podcasts, can potentially disrupt the pedagogy thus established. This is all the more true when it comes to the new media offered by sharing platforms, such as audio or video podcasts, which represent a completely new and unprecedented way of conceiving learning. You can easily imagine the disappointment of a teacher faced with a high failure rate due to the fact that a large number of students have relied on an inappropriate summary, or thought it sufficient to follow a series of audio podcasts dedicated to the course.

Informing your teacher of the development of parallel materials enables him or her to keep an overview of the teaching resources available to his or her students. In this way, he or she can assess whether the latter forms a coherent whole, suggest a certain use of the materials that make it up or, if necessary, advise against the use of those he or she considers inappropriate or insufficient.

consult this mini guide in pdf format

* This mini-guide is the short version of a more comprehensive guide published by CRef, available here and on the CRef website

updated on 4/29/24

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