Effective note-making is an important skill to get right at university. You’ll be taking in a lot of new knowledge and it’s vital that you can record and retrieve what you have learned. Note-making is also a learning process in itself, helping you to understand and digest the new content.
Tips for taking notes in an online synchronous (live) lecture
• Before the lecture, have a look at the learning objectives that have been provided. What is the lecture going to cover? This should help you decide which key themes and ideas you should be capturing.
• Do no write everything down verbatim. Listen out for cues given by the lecturer. E.g. “We’re now going to look at 3 main arguments…” or “This is an essential process…” This should help you to capture the most important information.
• Don’t worry about copying down everything that is included in a PowerPoint presentation. You can review the slides in more detail after the lecture. If the slides are provided in advance, try annotating them during the lecture as a means of keeping notes.
• You might find it beneficial to split your screen so that you can take digital notes and watch the lecture at the same time.
• Find a method of note-taking that helps you to organise the content. Use headings, bullet points, diagrams, highlighting, post-it notes and annotations.
• If there is something you don’t understand or you feel like you’ve missed something, don’t panic. Simply make a note to return to it. Lectures are recorded so you can return to the right section afterwards.
• Make sure you review your notes as soon as you can after the lecture. Try and summarise what was covered. This helps the content to sink in as well as help identify relevant content when revising.
There are now lots of options for taking notes digitally rather than by hand. However, it’s worth considering which method is best for your purpose.
Using a digital tool allows you to edit your notes more easily, move information around and share content with others.
Writing notes by hand gives you more flexibility to be creative on the page. There is also evidence that written notes involves more active engagement and hence increases retention of information. You might find this beneficial when taking notes from books/articles or when revising.
There are many advantages in making your notes digitally rather than the traditional handwritten way. Digital note making apps allow you to create, organise and share your notes, making it easy to collaborate with others. Some of the more popular apps for note making are OneNote, Google Keep and Evernote.