Leaving Cert student builds study notes community for his peers

10 Apr 2013

Image via Hirurg/Shutterstock

The Leaving Certificate looms ever closer for sixth-year students in Ireland, with oral examinations starting next week. But with the help of self-taught web developer and fellow student Daniel Paul, revision might not be too difficult.

While studying for his Leaving Certificate exams, 18-year-old Paul, like many of his peers, creates his own revision notes. But instead of keeping these notes to himself, he decided to share them online via his own website, StudyNotes.ie, so they might benefit others in the same situation.

“Last summer it was just a blog where I posted stuff, but now it has developed into more like a community,” explains Paul, who has developed the site over the past months, adding more of his own notes, as well as some submitted by friends, Junior Certificate notes, a points calculator, and a forum where the community took shape.

Self-taught coder

StudyNotes.ie is an accomplished solo project from the young coder, who has taught himself the skills necessary to pull this off. “I kind of got interested [in coding] a few years back when I found myself using the internet a lot and I wanted to know how everything worked,” he says. “I got to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, WordPress, PHP and other coding, other technologies.”

Paul says he spends all of his free time (when he’s not studying, presumably) doing something related to coding and web development. He runs StudyNotes.ie and the site’s Twitter and Facebook accounts by himself.

StudyNotes.ie screenshot

“I read a few tutorials if I’m stuck or I have a problem, but other than that it’s fully self-taught, just learning from other websites, other websites’ source code and other WordPress themes, and just looking at how others do it,” he explains.

However, it’s Paul’s hope that eventually the StudyNotes.ie community will grow to be self-sufficient. Once he completes the Leaving Cert examinations this summer, he hopes to go on to study computer science and let StudyNotes.ie live on through other students and educators supplying their notes.

Entrepreneurial spirit

While Paul taught himself to code, he believes there’s a place for it on the school curriculum. “I think if it was taught at the school, more people would be interested in it,” says the Drimnagh Castle Secondary School student.

So, does Daniel Paul want to be the next Nick D’Aloisio? “I hope to start a website during the summer after I’ve done my Leaving Cert because my passion is for the web and I like doing stuff that can be made public and accessed by anyone online,” he says. “I was hoping to start a business and help other companies set up their websites and things like that,” he adds, displaying just the type of entrepreneurial spirit we’ve come to expect from Ireland’s next generation of coders.

Notebook image via Hirurg/Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.