No Need For Notes During Online Learning? Think Again!

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As more and more students are learning remotely or taking virtual classes, they are having to adapt to online learning. E-learning already presents new challenges for students, and as a math tutor helping students adapt to online learning, I’ve noticed that note taking has declined. Since many of the students listen to lessons over the computer due to COVID-19 pandemic, they do not feel the need to take notes. With all the information available online, there are tons of resources that students believe supplement note taking. However, even with online learning, note taking is essential to learning and developing a solid foundation of knowledge for academic success.

As a Colorado Springs math tutor, I understand how important note taking is for building synapses in the brain to help with retention, recall, and deep learning of complex subjects. Math can be a challenging study, and without notes to reference it can become more difficult than necessary–especially since the best way to learn math is to practice and review the material. If you’ve been skimping on notes this semester, listen up–you are missing out on valuable information every single time you don’t take notes!

Why Note Taking is Just As Important As Studying

The idea of practice applies to note taking itself. As you write problems down, you are getting used to how they look as well as how they are completed. This is the first part of learning. 

The more you take and review your notes, the more refined the information capturing will become. As the note taking skill is built up over time, the more inherent the information processing becomes.

Analogous to driving a car, one does not know how to drive until they practice, no matter how many times someone has instructed them to drive. One does not know how to solve a problem until they try it for themselves and practice multiple times!

Benefits of Note Taking

The benefits of note taking are subtle, and often understated. Notes are for two people: your present self and your future self. By taking notes you are saving yourself from any future confusion or misunderstanding while maximizing learning!

  • Writing is an important piece of the learning process.
  • Notes help you understand and possibly catch mistakes in your reasoning as you work through problems.
  • Realizing your errors early into a problem will save you a lot of headache in the future.
  • Reviewing your own well written notes is single-handedly the quickest method to recount information. 
  • When writing notes, keep in mind you will look at them in the future, and should be able to study from your writing.
  • If you write too fast or messy, they will prove useless when you try to study later.

Online Note Taking for Students

The more that students are required to be online for their classes, the more missed opportunities for note taking occur. This issue arises in the first place because some students believe that note taking is not necessary for online learning but when receiving info from the computer it is still very important. Of course there are plenty of pre-prepared resources that provide the same material you learn in class, but note taking is a study tool that solidifies knowledge as you are learning it! Referencing a document or resource someone else generated is helpful, but does not provide the same valuable connections in the brain that note taking does. Make sure that if you or your student has transitioned to online learning that the habit of note taking remains.

Online Note Taking Tips

  • Make sure you have all the required materials for optimal note taking ready before the lesson.
  • If taking notes digitally, make sure devices are charged. 
  • Keep notes for the same class together. Whether you use a digital folder or a regular notebook.
  • Write down questions as they come up during the lesson, so that you don’t forget them.
  • Make sure you denote any relevant pages from your textbook or workbook in your notes as they come up.
  • Develop a consistent format or system for your note taking.
  • Only write down the main points and equations. You don’t need to write down everything your teacher says. 
  • After each lesson, go through and organize your notes. This will help you relearn the information while you structure it. 

Note Taking During Homework Assignments

Notes are to homework as blueprints are to a home. They provide examples that demonstrate how the work is done so a foundation of understanding is built. If your notes are indecipherable, you will not have a good foundation to build your understanding from. Similarly, attempting homework without notes is like trying to build a house without blueprints.  

When doing homework online–multiple choice questions or short answer questions–always write out the problem and show your work so you can reference the ideas later. It may seem like more work, or even trivial if you are confident in the information, but it will allow you to understand where you went wrong if your answer is incorrect. It is a deceivingly simple way to help information retention. 

Creating a Strong Foundation | Costa Comprehensive Tutoring 

If you or your student are struggling with the transition to remote learning for mathematics, it may be time to get a tutor. A consistent tutoring session schedule can optimize learning and build valuable skills to make students self-sufficient. I specialize in all levels of math, from algebra I to differential equations. I can also help students build confidence with test taking and help with homework assignments. If you feel that you need a math tutor, book your session today!

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