By and large, academics tend to make, take, and share notes: we mark up our books, compulsively annotate our own and other people’s writing, and jot down ideas wherever they occur to us. Inveterate note-takers find the simple act of writing notes itself is helpful, as Kathleen suggests in her note from an Evernote convert:
Notes are the key to remembering, for me. Or, more precisely: the act of taking notes is the key to remembering. Something about the act of taking notes helps make an idea, or an issue, or a plan more real to me.
Here are some posts from the ProfHacker archives about tools and strategies for taking notes and organizing them afterwards.
Guest author Shawn Miller explains Evernote’s features and offers good examples of how he uses it to jumpstart his writing process and corral different kinds of information. Evernote offers a web-based service as well as desktop applications (PC and Mac) and mobile apps. Mark used Evernote to go paperless at a conference.
Guest author David Whidden explains how he uses Microsoft Onenote and reviews its new iPhone app.
Mark reviews 3Banana, a lightweight but full-featured note-taking tool available for Android and iPhone devices, with a web-based synchronization service.
George reviews PearNote, a Mac-only tool for taking notes from a slide presentation (particularly when you’ve been given access to the slides as well).
Jason reviews AwesomeNote, an iPhone app that offers easy information capturing but limited synchronization options.
I recommend keeping an idea notebook,which I do in old-fashioned paper form. Amy likes Rollabind notebooks. George keeps a small notebook and uses post-its for annotating. If you take notes on paper, then you probably use a pen. You might even have a special favorite, as Jason suggests (as do many commenters).
George explains how he has used Google Docs to crowd-source notes at a conference presentation and thereby foster new connections among attendees.
Some of the tools referenced above include the capability to share notes among users.
Ryan discusses tools for annotating and organizing PDFs.
Some tools and services have changed since 2009, but Brian’s discussion of CommentPress and digress.it and Julie’s review of SideWiki and Diigo still offer useful points to consider with any tool. (Just be sure to check the related websites as some features have changed.)
Notes in the Classroom
Brian reminds new teachers that putting lecture notes and lesson plans on the computer makes them searchable for future years.
Guest author Alan Jacobs uses Dropbox and his iPad to simplify preparing teaching notes.
Nels mulls over how to encourage better note-taking in your classes, suggesting that explaining to students why they should take notes can help.
Where, when, and how do you take notes? Let us know in the comments!
[Creative-commons licensed image from Flickr user dvortygirl]