Students have always shared notes; it’s part of the college experience. Two companies are trying to tap into this tradition by using the web to manage the process.
GradeGuru.com, for example, allows users to search for class notes on specific topics. Interestingly, the search is not limited by course, but by topics. The vendor is assuming, then, that students need not be taking the same course at the same university to have relevant notes. And this assumption rests on the notion that a significant percentage of higher education curriculum is generic.
From a business perspective, the degree to which content in higher education is common across schools is of fundamental importance. If much of the content is generic (and/or students believe it is generic), then it is possible to offer content-based commercial services to the higher education market. It’s scalable, in other words.
The textbook industry has long relied on the significant degree of commonality in higher education curriculum. It is the basis of their business model. The first large textbook providers emerged in the 19th century when governments sought to standardize education; who can teach, what they teach, and so forth.
For more on the shared notes business, check out the following: