5 Tips for Better Online Learning: Note-taking

Did you know that we forget 47% of what we learn after 20 minutes? Or that we only remember 10% of what was said during an audio lecture? In the online learning world, this can make it hard for you to hold on to new information and material. But worry not – you can recall nearly 80% of a lecture by taking and refreshing yourself on your notes. Notes also help you get a clear of idea of the instructor’s main points and keep you concentrated! That’s why we want to help you out by giving you 5 note-taking tips.

Students listening and taking notes in a lecture hall in college

Image: bigstockphoto.com

1. Create a system

A good technique for taking and organizing notes is the Cornell System. Divide your paper into 3 different areas: the central area (A) is for taking notes during class, the column on the left (B) is for writing some key words and main ideas for reviewing and reflecting on after your class, and the smaller part at the bottom (C) is for summing up each page of your notes in a sentence or two.

2. Only write down the main ideas

You don’t have to write down everything you hear. If you focus too much on getting your notes right, you might miss some important points. Be alert to the main ideas and make connections while you hear them. Don’t waste your time with full sentences: use abbreviations and leave white spaces for later additions.

3. Stay organised

Give your notes a hierarchical structure. Start with a primary headline, and add indented sub-topics. Inside the sub-topics, you can work with bullets points, which should be further indented. In this way, your notes will be more structured and it will be easier to review them afterwards.

4. Type instead of write

When you have to write quickly, it’s easier to use a computer. Professors speak at 2-3 words per second, while the average writing speed of a student is  0.3-0.4 words per second. Typing will get you up to 1.5 words per second – so grab your laptop! Luckily, iversity.org gives you the possibility to slow down the courses, so you can follow the lectures and write them down at the same time!

5. Review and refresh

Spend at least 10 minutes every week reviewing all your previous notes to achieve lasting memory. By reviewing your notes, you transfer the information from your short-term memory to long-term memory, so you will be able to recall the material later on. Learning is for life – you can use this information in your daily life as well as for exams!

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