Students Misuse Conversations Feature in Canvas


You may have heard of students misusing Conversations in Canvas to send offers of for-profit note-taking services. This is a violation of the “Appropriate Use” policy at Auburn University, specifically the clause that “access to Auburn University IT resources [i.e., Canvas] is for your individual activities that support the university’s mission, not for commercial purposes or personal gain.” Because these note-taking services often pay the student to submit their notes, the student is using an Auburn resource for personal gain.

Aside from the policy violation, the benefit from these third-party notes is unclear. The actual act of note-taking helps students learn and retain knowledge — downloading the notes online does not mean the student has learned the content.

As Dr. Gulley in Political Science expressed:

No student should feel that to succeed they need help beyond my teaching, their reading and studying, and their peer interactions. I’m not doing my job if they need that, and I would rather drag students kicking and screaming through my courses if for no other reason than to show them they are masters of their own success.

Although we are unable to prevent these advertisements in Canvas, we do recommend making a “caveat emptor” announcement in class (or in Canvas) to remind your students to beware of note-taking services free or otherwise (even those notes taken by colleagues in the same class).

You may also wish to take it a step further and invite students to work together outside of class to review for exams. Several large study spaces are available in the Mell Classroom @ RBD for this purpose (please login with your Auburn credentials).

Please call or e-mail if you have any questions. Also, please let us know if you’ve encountered success empowering your students to be better note-takers, and not note-bystanders.

Last modified: February 16, 2018