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Academic File-Sharing Websites

What are they and why are they problematic?

There are numerous academic file-sharing websites on the Internet. Many market themselves heavily to both students and faculty as harmless “homework help” and “study resources” which are a part of progressive and collaborative education. This marketing has included sponsoring student, campus, and educational events. For example, Course Hero, OneClass, and StuDocu have been accessed frequently by Assiniboine students.

These sites allow students to share study materials such as their own lecture notes or study flashcards, and often classify themselves as mere “note-sharing” sites. Unfortunately, students are also posting materials provided by their instructors or sharing their previous assignments and tests, which would fall under several different forms of academic misconduct at Assiniboine.

File-sharing websites often provide incentives such as access to other materials or even monetary reward for students to post content that would increase user visits to these sites. While some of these sites are now blocked on Assiniboine networks, others elude filters because they are classified as “online shopping”.

There are several problems associated with students posting course materials to these websites or elsewhere on the Internet:

What can faculty do to educate students on file-sharing websites?