The Most Effective Way to Take Notes in Class | Edudemic

I am not sure how many teachers talk about note-taking strategies in their class – I know I talk about different methods when giving sessions on plagiarism and how to avoid it.

This article provides some great pointers to share with your students on how to take notes in class. Personally, I  am a total “dynamic Outline” kind of gal!

Also, we have talked about the pros and cons of typing rather than writing notes. For some, effective note-taking takes place on paper, for others they prefer to type. Either way, it doesn’t make our technology less useful or the paper and pencil people luddites. There’s room for all kinds!

Check it out!


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rAPPido review: Coggle (mind mapping application)

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 9.54.47 AMI was idly perusing my RSS feed as is my wont on a chilly Friday morning, and I came across a review of this little gem called Coggle. It is an online mind mapping software, one I suspect that is part of the google app village.

Price: free

What is it? First thing’s first: it is not an app that you will get from the iTunes store. It is web-based, so you need to access it via your browser. It is however, a mind-mapping app.

How does it work? As it turns out, pretty easily.

1. Sign in via your google account:

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I love it when it does that – that means one less password I have to remember.

2. Start creating!:

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Let me just mention that Coggle works on all platforms,whether you are using your laptop or the iPad. I am going to give you the iPad interface in this review.

3. I had a bit of difficulties getting started at the beginning. For some reason, the “tap here toy begin” toggle wasn’t working though I could create branches from it:

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I couldn’t edit the text in the default field.But I could add stuff:

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Another weird thing was that the first branch I created was larger than the others and I couldn’t figure out why:

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However, these are small glitches which I am sure will not be there every time. In fact, I worked it to my advantage by creating sub-branches:

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Pretty, isn’t it?

The branches are easy to move around, delete, zoom in and even change the colour:

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But that isn’t the best part of Coggle. Where it really shines is that it works like a google doc in terms of collaboration – you can invite people to your Coggle and everyone can edit in real time:

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You can download it as an image to your camera roll:

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Ot, if you choose the PDF option, you can open it in any app that accepts PDFs:

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As well, you can copy and paste the link (again, just like a google doc) and send it to your students. Or your students can easily share it with you:

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Oh! And you can also check out past revisions:

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Best of all? You can save your Coggles to Google drive! Just click on that minuscule text you see on your homepage:

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Just a warning, here – it took me a while to figure out that by clicking that link, it automatically added my Coggle to the Google drive. I got stuck in trying to create folders and getting a bit lost. But, when I thought to look in my drive, it was right there!

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This is a wonderful resources for group collaborations, brainstorming or even for note-taking for the more visual among us!

rAPPido review: SketchNotes

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.00.39 AMI saw this amazing post by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano about Sketchnoting and decided I would try the app SketchNotes. I used the information about best practices for passwords to try it out.

Price: free

What is it? 

It is a visual note-taking app. This means you can type your notes like you would in any note app. But as an extra bonus, you have the ability to doodle on it. Since Science has proven that doodling can actually be a good thing, this could be useful for certain types of learners.

How does it work?

Easily. You have the option either to typer or to draw. It just takes a tap to switch modes.

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My biggest problem happened when I tried to export it as a PDF or text. However, I got none of these options:

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Hmmm. This might be a glitch, but even shutting the app and opening it again didn’t help. Still, it is kind of game over if you can’t get your notes out from the app.

A neat feature is also the re-arrange. You select an object by drawing a box around it:

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Then drag it with your finger:

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However, this only works with the drawings, not the text.

Here are the formatting options:

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You can see what notes you have created on the left-hand side.

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Although the drawing feature is kind of neat,and it is relatively simple to use. There are some features lacking (not to mention the export options which are just plain missing). For instance, you can’t zoom in or out, which would be helpful with the drawing. As I mentioned above, you can’t move blocks of text around either.

Paperless Classroom does not mean no paper?

I think I have been thinking about the paperless classroom all wrong. In my head, I envisioned a class where everything was done on the computer, no pencil and notebook in sight. And though I felt like this was the line I had to tow, as a promoter of technology in the classroom and someone who is acutely aware of the amount of paper waste that happens in my library, I never felt very comfortable with the idea.


I guess because for something to enter my brain, I need to take the time to write it down. Then I need to make arrows that lead to following ideas. Then I have to circle things and make more arrows and then write notes in the margin.

My day to day management also requires paper. Every week I begin with writing a list on graph paper. I keep it by my computer and when I get distracted I take my eyes away from the screen and look at my list. Just the fact of writing it down by hand means that I will remember I have to do it – the looking at the list is only secondary.

The results of this study by the Association for Psychological Science, which shows that writing notes by hand is better for long-term comprehension, as well as the article below about the benefits of doodling, demonstrates that I am not the only one who finds taking notes beneficial.

Then it occurred to me that I was getting the wrong idea – the paperless classroom does not mean no paper. It doesn’t mean that students should not take notes in whatever way they feel is more advantageous to them.

I have to take off my literal hat and think of it more as a workflow idea. That is, the teacher gives the assignment electronically (via email, Showbie, dropbox, google drive). The student completes their assignment, sending the finished project via the chosen method. The student is not burdened with a whole bunch of loose papers, and the teacher can choose an efficient, electronic way of receiving their submissions. Simple. Elegant. Still allows for the diversity of styles and preferences.

Sometimes I am slow on the uptake…

Check out the article about the benefits of doodling below!


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11 Note-Taking Tips For The Digital Classroom – Edudemic

I was visited by a teacher yesterday who was wondering what the best way was to use the  iPads in her class for research. This teacher had a couple of sites she wanted the students to explore but wanted to make sure they were actually engaging with it.

I have been thinking of this ever since and I am not sure I have a good solution. The only thing I can think of is what our math and multimedia teacher mentioned in his Flipped Classroom presentation- that taking notes are a very important part of making sure the students are viewing the presentations/videos,etc he wants them to view.

But is paper better than digital? According to this infographic, it seems that our instincts were right-the answer differs for everybody:


Some ways the first teacher could go about it would be to have them do what Mr. Math teacher does- make them take notes on paper and then take a photo of their notes and post them on a class blog. Or, as the sites includes many images the students will have to explore, they can save the images to their camera roll and then stick them in a place where they can annotate them (whiteboard app, keynote,etc.). Or a combination of both.

Her concern is that she wants to be able to retrieve all the documents in one place- not to be bombarded by a bunch of emails. I am intrigued by the idea that pen and paper and technology are not mutually exclusive-there is no need to throw the baby out of the bathwater.

What do you think? If you get your students to look at certain websites on their iPad what are your tips and tricks to ensure they are engaging with the site and not with instagram?

Below is the article where I found the infographic.

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Does the physical act of writing something down help you to remember it? What is the most effective way to take notes? How does all of this play into a more digital classroom?

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