Ben Borgers

Publishing Class Notes

April 2, 2022

Last summer, the summer before freshman year of college, I had this idea that I’d keep really detailed notes on my classes and then publish them somehow on a website I’d make.

It was a way to flip the activity: from doing work for the class, to doing work for myself. Turning the class into a personal project that I’d care about doing well rather than just doing the minimum necessary for the class.

In high school, I made Biology and Chemistry websites to turn studying into a personal project. And it worked pretty well! The Bio website worked especially well, because I created it leading up to the AP Bio test and it forced me to study because I knew that I’d have to produce a product at the end. I wasn’t gonna give up or half-ass the studying, because I didn’t want to memorialize that by ending up with a half-assed website.

So, looking at college as a fresh academic start (of course), I had the idea that I could do the same thing with my new classes: somehow publicly summarize the information I learned, in order to turn the class from doing the bare minimum into a self-motivated project that I would care more about.

Unfortunately, that didn’t really happen.

Or actually, I did do that for one class! For Linear Algebra last semester, I took extensive notes and connected the concepts with each other:

The graph of my notes from Linear Algebra.

Although it forced me to review Linear Algebra more than I would have normally, I didn’t really enjoy the process all that much. Especially by the end, it felt like I was forcing out notes so I’d have the complete set.

I wonder whether the primary difference was that these notes weren’t public; they were just in a private note-taking app. I think there’s a lot of motivation that I get from putting something onto the internet where other people could read it: suddenly it feels like I’m making something for other people, and that’s much more exciting and motivates me to try to make things polished.

So again, I find myself wanting to do some version of this next semester. Some sort of public summary of things I’m learning in classes I’m taking, so that I can: 1) look back at the things I learned instead of just forgetting them with time, and 2) reclaim some of the motivation behind my learning.

We’ll see. But I like the idea.