Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reading Online Notes for English Class- Is that considered cheating?

As a student, I can testify that online notes for English novels are extremely helpful and many students participate in using these notes. However, can they be too helpful? Do they provide an unfair advantage? I believe they are helpful and at the same time fair. Personally, my favorite site for English notes is Sparknotes, while many of my classmates prefer Schmoop or Cliffnotes.

So first of all, what kind of notes do these sites provide and what makes them so helpful?

My favorite site, Sparknotes, provides notes for many popular English classics, including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet and many more novels which are commonly found in a English class's curriculum. The Sparknotes editors are graduates of top schools and teachers with experience regarding literature.

In these online programs, you can find very detailed resources referring to  very specific parts of the book. In To Kill a Mockingbird's Sparknotes, you can find a video, context, plot overview, character list, analysis of major characters, themes, motifs, symbols, detailed summaries on sections of the book, important quotes with explanations, key facts, study questions, and a quiz.

The video is very good example of how Sparknotes can be utilized.

So is the use of Online Notes cheating?

Many will jump to say it is cheating with the vast amount of resources it provides for free. With the amount being so vast that students no longer have to read the book to get an understanding of the book. However, I believe that the use of online notes is not cheating, if you have read the book. Sometimes, reading is difficult and not everything is understood perfectly. Online notes are great because if there is a symbol that I do not understand within the book, Sparknotes will explain the meaning to me. In addition, online notes prepare me for tests and quizzes. Reading the book is not always enough and these notes, which are written by educators, provide me with more perspectives in understanding the reading.

The cons of online notes

While online notes can be a very useful study tool, it comes with its cons. Like previously mentioned, students may just read the notes rather than the book. In addition, online notes can also take away the self interpretation of a book. The beauty of reading a book is that anybody can interpret the same words differently. However, when a student only reads the online notes, he/she is subjected to the editor's interpretation.

While I believe online notes are a great tool for English tests and quizzes, they can easily be subjected to misuse and cheating for an assignment. However, with proper use, such as reading the actual novel and using online notes as a compliment, online notes are fair and resourceful.

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