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More Tech Tips for the Class of 2018

June 19, 2016

Now that you are in the program, you may be thinking about how to take notes next year. I surveyed my class and here are some general ideas, in addition to the great piece Charlotte Smith wrote about Notability.

Of the people who responded, we had 13 Mac laptop users, and 9 of us did things the old fashioned way, with handwritten notes.   We had 5 PC laptop lovers, 3 iPad users, and 2 who did really well with the Microsoft Surface.

I was going to try to use a LiveScribe Pen with the notebooks that record lectures, but since our profs always provided lecture notes ahead of time, it was easier just to print things out and write directly on the slides–a little hard on the ink and paper budget, but it worked well for me.

Melanie took notes on adobe reader on her Mac and then (instead of doing the readings at night) went over the lectures and composed notes that consisted of slide key points and lecture tidbits combined, essentially creating a study guide as she went along in the semester. She then synthesized ideas into a cohesive main point document when exam time came up.

Darian took notes on her iPad slides first semester, but found writing/typing them out to study from was something she just didn’t have time to do. So she typed notes in class as we went along on her Mac second semester. When it came time to study she MUCH preferred having typed notes in class, saving hours of rewriting them out. It’s more mentally straining in class to try to keep up typing out everything on the slides and everything the profs say, but was definitely worth it for her.  Jill and Bethany agreed, as studying off the iPad was just not working.

Oliver wants to add that it depends. Some of the factors he thinks weigh into the decision-making process are whether lecture material are in PDF or PowerPoint format, the amount of diagrams/visuals in lectures, and the amount of content in lecture slides. He found PowerPoint in certain courses allowed him to type really good descriptive notes without worrying about text space or placement, while also being able to edit the text of the actual slides (using red coloured font). A difficult balance that he has been going back and forth on is copying and pasting PowerPoint/PDF lectures into a word document vs. listening and taking notes in class. He has been reading up on experiments investigating note-taking habits of university students. Apparently, students who use handwritten notes retain more information compared to students who take computer-typed notes even when factoring in study time with computer formulated notes. The researchers believe that handwritten notes forces students to think about the material, making them more likely to paraphrase and retain information. However, typed notes are usually copied verbatim from lectures and students rarely paraphrase. A happy medium for the convenience of digital media may be the use of an iPad and stylus or the Microsoft surface. I used an iPad with the note-taking software Notability. I found it stable with a great scroll feature for writing, as well as folders for organization. Lastly, he tends to like using flow charts to visually see the flow of lectures/courses and build an organization to classify and categorize information. The software MindNode worked quite nicely for him, but lacks top down organization.

Finally, a word from Charlene: In general, she tried to do readings before classes by taking notes to help prime. Then she took notes in class on her MacBook Air (ppt or pdf – didn’t really matter to her). After each class, she would make a handwritten mind map of the lecture to help understand how things were connected. Then, come final time, it was a lot easier to see how different lectures fit together, etc. She found it helped a ton doing that brief review every day because it was much more relaxing studying for finals! She tended to work off of objectives for some classes as a study guide and for others she used the profs’ guides.

And something we all want found lifesaving: SHARE.  We are given a google drive and can share resources, study notes, and, well, everything.  We now have a folder of activity ideas for Spring Clinic. And embrace your Facebook page. You are all a team now.

 

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