Last week, I issued a “Ninja Skills” challenge, asking for your go-to techniques for keeping track of online learning. Put another way:
Problem: Managing online/hybrid classwork can be a lot harder than in the good old Trapper Keeper® days.
Opportunity: Share collective wisdom on best organizational practices. Discover tools and methods beyond your wildest dreams.
That said, we kick off our Tips & Tricks series with something surprisingly humble: the classic paper notebook.
I’ll admit…this surprised me — I’ve labored to develop a multi-tabbed Google Docs solution for my own learning (more on that soon). Online learning, online organization — no printer, no paper, no handwriting (and for years now, anything more than a paragraph has made my hand literally ache for typing). It’s possible that I feel a little proud of myself. So…notebooks? Pens?
Yep, but here’s the twist: two notebooks. Why don’t you digest that for a moment before moving on.
Kevin (see comments on last week’s post) has one notebook that is “black and beat up with the binder broken, kind of like that one in the picture.” He goes through the syllabi on various online course websites, such as the pioneering Open Yale and MIT open courseware, and notes “all the required readings, books, articles, everything,” after which he looks for free/inexpensive hard-copy sources. After the scouting work is done, he prepares (in the second notebook) a custom curriculum for a given subject, built of the best of what’s around.
Cristina (again, see last week’s comments) uses the dual-book system for a different purpose. One notebook is “a total mess and covers whole units in the order I do the readings and lectures.” Her second notebook is “the nice once that has all the information but looking pretty.” More than a straight transcription of her first set of notes, however, she’ll typically “rearrange and reorganize the unit order to suit my own understanding.”
So. Two notebooks, two methods. What they share is the freedom to be messy in the first go around, and the need to be disciplined enough to circle back and revise for clarity and purpose. I’m reminded, especially by Cristina’s version, of the Cornell Method — which I wish someone had taught me back in my formative years.
That’s it for this week. Let me know what you think re: notebooks (or just geek out about your favorite Mokeskine®) in the comments below, and call out your favorite study tips, tricks, techniques, and apps for next Wednesday!