Use EtherPad to Take Notes with Friends During Class

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A new website called EtherPad allows you to take notes during class with a friend. You both edit the same page. You can see your friends notes and save the final version. It’s called real-time document editing collaboration. Why would you want this? Here are a couple examples.

Scenario 1: During Class.

Have you ever been taking notes in class and missed something important that the professor said? Maybe it was a blackletter rule. Maybe it was a point that could be on the final exam. It would be nice if you could just rewind class. Maybe you can ask a friend about it after class. With EtherPad, you can see your friend’s class notes appear immediately as your friend writes them.

Scenario 2: Preparing for Finals.

Imagine that you are preparing your outline for finals. You notice gaps in your notes. You’re not sure if you were day-dreaming, missed a concept, or the professor just didn’t talk about it. You might have time to ask some friends to see their notes, but you might not have time. With EtherPad, you would have a copy of your friend’s class notes next to yours, so you can fill in the gaps.

Alternatives to EtherPad.

Instead of EtherPad, a study partner and I shared a Microsoft OneNote document over the internet. This allowed us to take notes together during class. It worked great. He often noted information that I missed, and vice versa. However, Microsoft OneNote is not free, and it is not as simple as EtherPad.

GoogleDocs allows collaboration like EtherPad, but notes in GoogleDocs are delayed by about 10-15 seconds, which can be annoying. GoogleDocs is free; you just need a Gmail account.

EtherPad Let’s You Chat During Class.

Using EtherPad, you can ask your friend a question or make a comment during class. For example, your in-class notes might look something like this:

You: Um, did the professor just say that the “mailbox rule” was different under the UCC?

Your Friend: Yeah, dude. Didn’t you read the assignment this week?  Compare UCC 2-207 to Restatement(2d) Contracts 59.

Sharing notes in class isn’t for everyone. You need a study partner you trust. However, many law students may find it very helpful. If you don’t own Microsoft OneNote, check out EtherPad. It’s free.

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4 Responses to “Use EtherPad to Take Notes with Friends During Class”

  1. Elaine Says:

    Great Post. I wasn’t aware that EtherPad existed. Thanks!

  2. Harry Toor Says:

    As a Pre-Law student I use googledocs during class with friends, but it’s only useful when your sitting rather close and the teaher doesn’t lecture at light speed. Otherwise you’re better off getting together after class and going line by line over your notes. Though, I guess you could “get together” over the internet not in person…. :)

  3. TimStudiesLaw Says:

    EtherPad is now in closed beta. :(

  4. Prasanna Says:

    Hi There,

    I was an early user of EtherPad & love it.
    I host and maintain it here: iEtherPad.com

    Please note that EtherPad.com is shutting down soon.

    Cheers.

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