by Eric Ritholz

Several years ago I started promoting the use of the Cornell Method to students as well as professionals because of its many redeeming qualities. It looks simple, and yet it brings lateral thinking, visual, and kinesthetic factors into the process. If you are not familiar go to this link:

http://lsc.cornell.edu/notes.html

Cornell Method but simply put: Take notes (in your preferred form: mind-map, vann, list, brainstorm etc…), write keywords and questions on the left, come back to the page at another time to summarize.

Recently, I’ve realized that in some cases you may want to section folders in a note-taking application such as Evernote or Onenote to do much the same thing. Simpler, depending on your study or research habits. Ideally, you will want to use a program that is either cloud-based or syncs between several instances on different platforms. Just remember, thinking about what is worth writing down is part of the mnemonic process and copy/pasting or typing is not the same by a long shot.

the Cornell Method

credit: lavidapoliglota.tumblr.com

Find the way that works best for you. My suggestion is to use a handwriting app on your device of choice. There are a lot out there. My personal favorite is Fiinote, note everything or Fiiwrite as they allow you to write over the entire screen like a Neanderthal and place the words neatly on line for you. The notes created can be uploaded and sorted in your favorite note management application. These note images can then serve as the source material from which you populate your ‘keywords & questions’ and ‘summary’ folders.

This process of learning with reinforcement is enhanced through sharing. Particularly when reviewing notes for keywords and questions. Consider developing a basic wiki to showcase and guide each other. Simply looking at someone else’s questions may point you in directions you haven’t considered. Guess work and conjecture are valuable tools for learning regardless of how right or wrong your guesses may be. If you are proven wrong, you will learn why, if you are proven right you will remember why and so, you’ve learned.

Lastly, summarizez your learning, findings, and answers to your questions (collectively, I hope). The definitions of keywords you have listed can and should be collected and reorganized for study and review before major tests. These details are more relevant because you are engaged with them and already familiar with the greater context they represent. Just like any other new technique or variation of method it will take some time and discipline to develop the routine and critical thinking skills necessary to get the most out of a new note-taking method. You may find that reviewing notes that have been reduced and reflected upon is easier, faster, and will produce better results than other methods. Adapting this to the technological tools we now have at our disposal seems logical evolution of the method.

(http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Conjecture_map, 2004)
(Design Based Research, p. 2004)
(note-taking, 2005)

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