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Your Guide to Better Note Taking

You might be watching a lecture online, doing some reading or brainstorming for an assignment when you’re taking notes. Regardless which of these activities you are doing, taking notes is bound to help you absorb and retain the information you are learning when studying online.

How you choose to take those notes entirely depends on what works for you and there is certainly no perfect method that is the quickest and most effective. Note taking is an individual exercise and highly dependent on the way that the individual processes information.

Here’s some note taking methods that might be helpful to you when trying to improve this important skill.

The Cornell Method

This is a really popular method as it is simple but effective and provides a clear visual when revisitingCornell Method diagram your notes at a later time. In the Cornell Method you:

Split your page into 3 parts

  • Record notes as you go along in the right-hand column
  • Put keywords and concepts in the left column
  • Summarise the notes in your own words at a section on the bottom of the page to help build your memory and comprehension on the topic.

Using Graphic Organisers or Visual Aids

Graphic organisers or visual aids can be helpful to visual learners when taking notes. It could be a simple brainstorm or a mind map written on paper; note takers could even explore the option of online mind map tools. 

Use Your Own Shorthand and Abbreviations

It’s best to create your own shorthand or abbreviations so that you remember them. This can also help you fit more in because you are writing faster.

Summarise Well

Summarising and doing it well is the key to effective note-taking. In order to summarise well you need to:

  • Be able to understand and put what you have read into your own words
  • Identify key points and phrases in a text
  • Use a variety of ways to display your summary including dot points, visual displays and online tools if suitable.

Make Flashcards

Flashcards are a great resource to flick back through to revise or retain what you have learnt. After watching a lecture online or reading some notes, have a deck of flashcards on standby. You can use these to quickly jot down some main ideas. Doing this will not only help you remember those key points. You can also shuffle the deck of cards and read them for a quick refresh of your notes.

If you’re looking to study online, consider joining BBI – The Australian Institute of Theological Education. BBI offers Theology courses that will extend your teaching career options or develop your interests in Leadership and Theology. Enquire online today and be sure to use these note taking tips for your first lecture. 

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