At Keystone we believe that, in the hands of a good teacher, online learning can be a match for learning in-person. However, if there is one concern that our tutors most often voice about their online classes, it is that they find it hard to check on their pupils’ note-taking. Lessons themselves are obviously crucial; without revision from one’s notes, however, their effect is drastically diminished.
Here is a short post outlining 10 straightforward tips for note-taking when learning online:
- Just like in-person lessons, the most important principle with note-taking is organisation.
a. Have files for each subject.
b. Have dividers for each category or topic.
c. Add your notes thematically rather than chronologically.
d. Use consistently-sized paper, so avoiding the random bits of scrap paper that bedevil so many student files.
- For any digital work you do (e.g. essays, notes or exercises completed on your computer rather than by hand), replicate your real files with folders on your desktop, divided by subject as above.
a. Use Dropbox or Google Drive so that you can access your files from any computer.
b. Use automatic backup software so that your files can be recovered if something happens to your computer.
- Do not try to write down everything from the lesson. Have your tutor guide you as to the most salient points of the lesson. Try to write these points down in a way that will be useful when you come to revise.
- Use a “two-column” format when taking notes. Simply draw a line down the middle of the page. Big ideas and categories can be placed on the left hand side of the page; details, examples and supporting evidence can be placed on the right.
- Use as few words as possible; do not use full sentences. Use abbreviations.
- Keep lots of space on the page. When you come to revise, it can be very off-putting and disorientating to look at a dense page of notes. Similarly, you will need that space for adding supplementary notes as you revise.
- Use diagrams and pictures to help you remember.
- Circle or highlight the most important notes at the end of your session for ease of revision.
- Remember that you can take a “screenshot” at any point to save materials, diagrams etc. that might be on the screen.
- At the end of the session, ask your tutor to send you his notes so that you can print them off to supplement your own. You can save the lesson notes done by the teacher as a PDF.