Who even takes notes anymore … #OpenBlog19

From the list of ideas/themes submitted to the #OpenBlog19 Google doc, I thought I’d pick up this idea that was posted – ‘Who even takes notes anymore …?’

In the past I’ve written about the way I’ve changed my habits when note taking in meetings and at events, from Sketchnotes to Threaded-Tweeting. What has ultimately brought about these changes is both personal and professional.

My handwriting is awful. It has always been more squiggle and mess than well-formed and readable. Over time, and reliance on email and digital communications, my writing has got worse and deteriorated to the point I wanted to try something different, something that might make/help me make meaningful notes. I found I would use lines and shapes in my notebook more often than actual words or lists or meaningful ‘notes’, which was when I found Mike Rohde and his Sketchnote Handbook.

At school (GCSE and A-levels) I had the (misfortune?) to have my notes dictated to me by most of my teachers. In one instance the narrative we we’re supposed to write down (and be checked on later) came so thick and fast there was barely any time to even hear the words and meanings, just enough time to keep up and get the words down. I never learned anything in those lessons. Never. I could read back my notes and barely remember anything I’d written, even important dates or people or events (history), even the spelling mistakes I’d corrected I couldn’t remember doing.

That was not an experience I learned anything from, except that I could see my handwriting deteriorate as the class progressed.

During my 4 years at university this meant I felt I was at a disadvantage – I had no experience of ‘how’ you write notes. How do you listen and filter out what’s important and what you keep on paper? I had no idea. Hence why I did so badly, I didn’t know what it meant to be an independent thinker / note-taker / learner. How do you use these notes for revision, indeed ‘can’ you use notes with so many gaps for revision? This was me, struggling at university, with the basic understanding of what being a student meant. And there wasn’t anyone, other than friends, to help.

Fast-forward to work and employment … I guess I’m still pretty much the same. I make notes, I keep records of conversations and important information I need (especially if there’s an action on me when we finish), but I rarely revisit my notebooks unless something goes really badly wrong.

How do students take notes? Do students, as the media tends to suggest (especially if the article has the word ‘millennial’ in the title!), use Evernote, OneNote, Twitter or Facebook as their sharing / note-taking? Do they have lever-arch files (like I did) full of A4 paper notes, hastily scribbled and subsequently ignored, like I did?

At least students these days can help themselves if they want to take better notes, a quick and dirty online search (dirty, in that it is hastily formed, not thought through properly, not ‘that’ sort … !) finds helpful websites like this and this and this and this.

In short, I make notes because I have to, to keep a record of conversations or actions that arise in meetings or as part of line management responsibilities. Ultimately, I’d like to make better notes, but in the absence of knowing what I’m doing (and why), I use a mix of lists, sketches, and general scribbles. It works for me, if I can read my writing more than 30 minutes after I wrote it!

Now, what about you, what about you and your notes? What about your students, do they take notes or record it? Do they rely on the recorded lecture, their notes, or a bit of both?

I wish I could pass my thanks to the person who submitted this theme/title to the #OpenBlog19 challenge, but I don’t know who it was. Thank you, anyway!

Image source: Tekke (CC BY-ND 2.0)