When I was an undergrad, the only way that would have made sense to take notes was with a pencil and paper. Most lectures I had either required extensive derivations, where the board ended up covered in equations and results, usually with boxes drawn around them for emphasis, once the proof was complete. No digital note-taking software could possibly keep up with that.
Since starting my post-bacc work, I’ve noticed that a lot of students use laptops in class, although most of them are camped on Facebook. Anyway, I’m wondering if I should give digital note-taking a try. It seems to be all the rage in medical school, although again, Facebook probably accounts for a lot of that. Here are the pros and cons I’ve come up with, at least from my perspective:
- I type a lot faster than I can write
- Digital notes are searchable, can be tagged, and are available in the cloud via multiple media
- It seems a lot easier to organize lecture notes if they’re electronic. This is a big one for me, since one of the problems I’ve had with lecture notes in the past is that I have a hard time keeping them organized. This is probably why I don’t refer to them as much as I should.
- Lecture notes are already digital, usually as PDFs – this is new to me, since most classes I’ve had in the past did not give out notes at all, instead relying on the student to deduce from the reading and lecture what was important.
- Digitally making diagrams during lecture is impractical. The guy next to me in biochemistry last semester tried to do this and I watched him struggle miserably.
- Taking notes with something like EverNote or OneNote is new to me – this is going to be a really busy semester for me, with work, school, and all the rest. Is the learning curve for taking notes with software like that steep?
- Part of what helps me learn is writing things down or drawing a diagram, schematic, or feedback system. I’m worried that switching to a different system, which feels a bit more passive, might not have the same effect.
Anyone else have some thoughts or suggestions? How do you guys take notes from lectures / reading and what works for you? I’m thinking of testing it out this semester, so any help would really be appreciated.