Let’s see if you’re prepared for today’s lesson. Okay, everything seems to be in place. You’ve got your laptop there, and we notice a steaming cup of coffee beside it. Hey, wait a minute… Where’s your notebook?

Of course, the introductory “dialogue” is completely fake. Why would someone demand you own a physical notebook? In the digital classroom, such a tool isn’t necessary. What’s necessary is the act of taking notes itself. Whether you’re using a pen & paper combo, or a digital alternative to it – it doesn’t matter.

Do you have some issues with taking notes during online lessons? If so, check out the 9 tips for taking notes during online courses you’ll find in the text below.

Why’s taking notes so important?

Here we’ll show you why taking notes is an important part of the learning process. All of the facts below are scientifically tested and proven. Also, they are related to taking notes in general, not just when it comes to studying online. Here’s a quick digression. If you’re wondering if studying online is worth it, visit this page to find your answer.

Taking notes helps you focus your attention

Taking notes helps you stay focused over the course of the lesson. We all know how easily our thoughts can drift away from the lesson subject. That’s what you learn immediately after the start of your schooling process.

It helps you better understand the subject matter

Taking notes helps students better comprehend the lesson material. Many research studies have proved this. By writing down the key points in the lesson, the student can understand it better.

It also helps you keep track of what you’ve learned

This one’s also very important. Taking notes helps you keep track of all the things you’ve learned during the course. Realizing you’ve crossed a long way is beneficial to your self-confidence. It will make you a solid learner.

Finally, it’s a skill that pays off

Last but not least, let’s talk about the future. Taking notes is not a hard thing to do. Still, it’s a skill that pays off. By nurturing this skill, you’ll be more prepared for future challenges. The amount of knowledge you have will increase, and you’ll feel more able to learn new things.

Now let’s take a look at those tips for taking notes we’re eager to show you!

#1 Try not to write everything down

Recent studies have shown folks like to write everything down during online lessons. However, this method should be avoided. Of course, the reason behind this is the obvious lack of textbooks. It should come as no surprise many students are doing it.

What’s so bad about it?

Writing down too many notes can later lead to the so-called information overload. That condition can sometimes cause confusion. Instead of transcribing the whole lesson, focus your attention on writing down key points.

#2 Use your own words

Now, it’s very important you don’t write down every word that appears on the screen. By interpreting the material in your own way, you’re bound to succeed. Use your own words to describe what’s happening in the lesson. It will help you understand the material more naturally.

Later on, when you start going through your notes, you’ll see why this is crucial.

#3 Taking notes on laptop vs paper, apps for taking notes

You might wonder which option is better. Whether you should write on paper or use an app on your laptop? In recent years, social scientists tried to give an answer to that question. Don’t expect it to be a black & white kind of reply.

So, what do the studies say?

One study suggested the winner is the old-school pen & paper note-taking. The subjects that took notes by hand better remembered the material later on. Now, that was only the first time they tried that experiment. When they repeated it, the results differed from the first time.

Also, some of these studies pointed out that students write more when using their laptops. But, it’s noticeable they’re rarely using their own words. One expert said that students using laptops “write more but remember less”. Some social scientists strongly disagree.

As you can tell from the text above, there’s no winner here. None of the repeated studies gave us the info we need. In other words: use what suits you more.

Are there any good note-taking apps?

There are many note-taking apps you can try out. Here are some of them:

  • Microsoft OneNote – it’s free and very easy to use. Create notes, record audio, and share your stuff with other people.
  • Evernote – choose between a free or paid plan. The app allows you to scan book pages and turn them into digital text.
  • Google Keep – it’s Google’s own take on a note-recording app. You can try it out on this page.
  • Simplenote – easy-to-use software, as its name suggests. The app is designed for text storage only.

Of course, this was only our pick. There are many other options to choose from.

An opened notebook with the word NOTES written one the left page. Wondering what kind of tips for taking notes are out there? Stick around.

#4 Review, analyze and edit your notes

We’ll try to be quick here. It’s crucial you go through the notes you’ve written and introduce some order to them. If you notice some parts need to be rewritten, don’t hesitate to do it. 

Wouldn’t that create a mess?

Well, it depends on what set of note-taking tools are you using. If you’re using an app, it’s easy to erase and rewrite old material. In the pen & paper case, you can buy a new notebook in which you write the updated versions. Avoid being messy! But, if that’s your style, then we got no problems with it.

#5 Take notes while you read

You might know that some online courses are just about reading and watching lectures on your own. Don’t postpone writing notes for after the lesson’s finished. Take notes while you read. Even if you don’t understand some parts, do it! You can mark those areas with a tiny question mark.

It’s important you stay engaged with the lesson until the class is over!

#6 Stick to your plan

Avoid saying something like this: Alright, today I’m choosing not to take notes. Just this one time. It won’t make a difference.

That might’ve sounded a bit artificial, but you get the point. It’s very important you stick to your plan. You need to develop a note-taking routine. Skipping this action will probably make you more eager to just drop it.

#7 Be prepared for the class

Most teachers hand out the lesson material before the class starts. Make sure you never skip skimming through it quickly. That way you’ll have a notion of what the lesson is about. You need to have a clue of what’s ahead. Subsequently, your notes will become more clear and more confident.

#8 Employ your drawing skills

Okay, we don’t mean you should doodle around the text or something. Random doodles can’t really help you here.

Some folks understand the material better when it appears in pictures or diagrams. If you belong to that group, you should try to conceptualize the material in that manner. You can get quite good at it after a while. And who knows? Others might need your services.

Studies have shown good visuals help people understand different concepts more clearly.

#9 Pay attention to the end

Don’t worry if you haven’t had time to write everything down during some parts of the lesson. Most professors/instructors will repeat the gist of the lecture in the last minutes. That’s where you should pay close attention.

That being said, we’re going to do the same thing in the next paragraph.

Tips for taking notes during online courses – a summary

Okay, let’s summarize what we’ve learned today. Here are the main points.

Why are notes crucial?

Taking notes is very important because it:

  • helps you focus your attention.
  • provides you with a better understanding of the material.
  • helps you keep track of the things you’ve learned.
  • is a skill that pays off quite nicely.

What are some tips for taking notes during online courses?

We’ve selected nine of them:

  • try not to write everything down – only record the main points.
  • use your own words – don’t copy/paste what the lecturer’s saying.
  • in the laptop vs paper race, there isn’t a winner – there are only good note-taking apps.
  • don’t forget to review, analyze and edit your notes – go back to them after a while.
  • avoid writing notes after the lesson – do it while the lesson’s not over.
  • stick to your plan – avoid passing on taking notes.
  • prepare for the class – instructors usually hand out the material before the lesson.
  • draw diagrams and pictures – say no to doodles!
  • pay attention at the end of the lesson – the teacher will probably summarize.

Now, if that’s not enough, then… Anyway, by sticking to these tips, you’ll become a successful online learner. There’s no doubt about i!

Final thoughts

So, that’s about it, folks. Hopefully, these tips on taking notes will come in handy. Also, we hope you’ve taken some notes while reading this text. Of course, we’re just joking around. Although, it would be really cool if you’ve done that.

For more tips concerning taking online courses, visit our blog.