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Agorado: College graduates create website to collect, share undergrad work

When Matt Smoron, 23, finished a lengthy environmental paper for a class at Illinois Valley Community College he felt a sense of satisfaction but was also left with a question.

Is there nothing more that can be done with this work?

“I had a lot of fun writing it and it had a lot of information in it but after I turned it in and I got a grade, it just went nowhere,” Smoron said. “And I thought ‘Well, that kind of sucks. I had a lot of fun writing this and I think a lot of people would enjoy it as there’s a lot of good information in it.’ ”

And he wasn’t the only college student looking to do more with their undergraduate work. He was thrilled to receive a call from former IVCC student Chris Moshage who was working on Agorado, a website meant to serve as a resource for other undergraduate resources where students can upload their work to the website where it can receive peer reviews or be used as a reference for future work.

“I was on board right away,” Smoron said.

“Because it’s cool to be an undergraduate and take your work that you’ve put a lot of time into and put it out there, like the next step,” he added. “It doesn’t just stop with having a grade. Just because you’re an undergraduate doesn’t mean you can’t have a lot of valuable information for someone else to look off of for inspiration or information in their papers later on.”

Moshage, 23, graduated from Bradley University and was left with a similar feeling as Smoron and decided to create the website as a way to provide a platform where students can receive additional recognition for their work or have it live on through being referenced by others.

“It’s somewhere they can get that level of recognition that they might not otherwise have access to with one of the main traditional methods,” Moshage said such as being published in a journal. “That path isn’t really open for undergraduate students specifically.”

Moshage decides to think of it as a “repository of knowledge” where, as it grows in content, students can review similar assignments and see previous research to help guide or further their own studies.

“I do think the content students create has much more value than is instinctively applied to it. Just because a student might be in community college or an undergraduate degree doesn’t mean they’re not doing very thorough, valuable work,” he said. “So we wanted to have a spotlight on that work and that it does bring value.”

Chris began developing the idea in August after graduating from Bradley University and later brought Smoron and Nick Moshage, 30, onboard.

The students have gotten positive feedback about the project from professors at IVCC and Bradley University and it’s been slowly gaining traction from students.

Currently, they have around 25 members but a much higher number of viewers looking at the works. All material is reviewed by the team but only to remove material that could be considered obscene or could constitute as hate speech.

They also noted some professors have raised concerns that uploaded work could be plagiarized by others once uploaded online, but those professors have still encouraged the website’s growth and development.

Scholarships available for participants

One way the group is attempting to spark interest is by self-funding two $1,000 scholarship rewards for exemplary papers at the end of the next two semesters and two $500 scholarships for peer reviewers. The qualifications are still being set up but the students envison selection the top 20 to 25 papers and having them reviewed by an advisory team made up of college professors.

They hope the site grows to the point where it could be used as a portfolio for a student’s undergraduate work when applying to a four-year school or graduate school, as well as focus on expanding the user base and offering more scholarships.

They said oftentimes students learn about the project doubt whether their own work has merit, but the team is quick to respond that all work has some value.

For more information, email info@agorado.com or visit the website at agorado.com.

Why “Agorado?”

Chris said when coming up with a name for the project he was inspired by agoras, which were meeting places and marketplaces in ancient Greece where the public could gather to exchange ideas and gain new perspectives. The word was too common to be easily discoverable online and so he blended the word with “El Dorado,” which was a mythical city of gold. Chris said the new name then reflects what he would consider a “City of Knowledge.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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