Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Students Don't Take Notes Anymore?

While taking my usual perusal through the very funny Waterford Whispers News this morning I had a giggle at one of their latest posts: Fucking Loser In Front Of You Actually Taking Notes During Lecture. In this post a student who doesn't take notes thinks others who do are "losers" while scribbling rude drawings and checking out Snapchat and Netflix. Funny - maybe, but real?

When I first became a Lecturer in NCI in 2002, most students took down notes based on what my slides showed on screen. It appeared to me that students took note of my bullet points word-for-word, and I often wondered if they were listening to anything I said. Basically, at the time this was the only way for them to have material from class - no Moodle or Blackboard in those days. For those of us Lecturers who knew a bit of HTML, we then started to put our notes on web pages. While this worked for some students, it is hard to believe that many at that time had no email address or access to the Internet. Moodle changed everything for both students and Lecturers. For students, it was an easy way to get notes and saved a lot of note taking in class, for Lecturers it was an opportunity to provide not just notes, but other resources (such as case studies, web links, quizzes, and exercise files) as well.

Many Lecturers create quite elaborate notes, often based on PowerPoint slides created by textbook authors. I create my own and sometimes use very modified (by me) textbook versions. Perhaps because of  this, or maybe it is part of a wider condition - I too notice that students very rarely take notes in my classes. While my notes are no substitute for a textbook, I know that many students who choose not to buy a textbook rely on my notes (and videos). I am often asked by students if they really need to buy one of the recommended textbooks - my answer always is that there are some copies in the library, but good luck trying to reserve a copy in the days and weeks leading up to the exams.

Taking notes is a great way to really learn - it helps with your writing, understanding, memory, exam revision, and is a useful record of information. The Horry Georgetown Technical College has a really good (and short) presentation on how to take and review notes. If you don't take notes in class, the presentation below will really make you think:

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