Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What is notetaking for today's student?

I've recently read a blogpost about the importance of note taking as a skill for independent learners. You can read the original here. This got me thinking, what is note taking for today's learner. To respond to this I've reflected on my own approach to independent learning and practices I attempt to develop in my classes.

There are many note taking applications available - OneNote, Evernote, Google Notebook to name a couple. Each of these provides a way of taking notes and linking to information on the web. Personally I use Evernote, however encourage my students to use Google notebook. Why, I want students to access their notes regardless of equipment and I need to take notes when offline.

But, think beyond physically typing or writing notes. There are other processes I believe could be considered part of note taking. Tagging and bookmarking, if done productively, can be a powerful method to organise your information. There are social sites that allow you to learn from others in this regard. Some sites take it beyond simple tagging and allow a level of interaction with the information. With my Diigo account, I can highlight and comment on web information, and other Diigo users can view and respond to my highlighting and commenting. This provides a powerful way to engage learners with research and notetaking.

Stephen Downes refers to the use of images for note taking. This could be as simple as photographing the whiteboard / learning in class (something I do regularly), or storing pics of objects that relate to a concept or thought process. Extend the concept of photographing the whiteboard, and use an electronic version (interactive or online) and save the whiteboard as an image. This can be stored and tagged.

Concept maps are also a method of representing information. I am only now beginning to realise the potential of a concept map / mind map.

I believe note taking has moved well past the traditional thought of one place to store typed / written text. What needs to catch up is a teacher's concept of notes to allow this multiple faceted approach. When we say a student can bring notes into the exam room, what do we physically allow them to bring?

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