26 Take Effective Notes on Online Readings

Why take notes on online content? After all, you can easily search for it and read it again. However, re-reading is not always the most effective use of time. Taking good notes helps you to quickly review the key points in the material that you have read.

Taking notes is also an effective learning strategy. Intentionally annotating the texts that you read requires you to critically engage with the material. You are doing the work of identifying the important content, and considering its implications for your course and your professional practice. This practice facilitates deep learning, and ensures that you remember key material.

Choose the note taking method that is most effective for you. You may prefer traditional notebooks. Many readers underline, highlight, and put key notes in the margins of their books.  You may prefer to create typewritten notes, and to store these notes in using your electronic notebook/ information management system. Another tool for engaging with digital texts is Hypothes.is.  Watch the video below, and consider how this tool might work for you. If you prefer reading to watching videos, scroll to the bottom of the page for a transcript. When you are finished, go to the next chapter to move on.



Video Transcript

So, you have your texts for your course – but they’re not regular textbooks. You’ll be using online texts and other articles as the primary readings in your course. What strategies can you use for making effective notes that will help you retain what you are reading, prepare for exams, and note key information for use in your assignments?

One tool that can help you take notes electronically is Hypothesis. Hypothesis is a free tool that you add to the Chrome browse that allows you to highlight and add notes to online text. In this video, you will learn how to install Hypothesis, create notes and highlights, and create a group to work collaboratively with your classmates.

To get started with Hypothesis, you will first create a free account. Type hypothesis into the search bar to visit the page. On the top right, you will find a “Get Started” button. Click here to create your account. You will provide your email address, create a user name, and password. Then, check your email and click on the link to activate your account.

The second step is to install the Hypothesis extension in your web browser. In this case, you will use the Chrome browser. To install the extension, go to the “Get Started” section of the Hypothesis page. Then, click the Chrome extension button. This will guide you through the steps of installing the extension.

When the extension is installed, you will see a square icon at the top left of your screen. When you click this icon, you will see a new menu on the far right of your browser. Click the arrow to open the menu and login.

Next, you will choose where to store your notes. Be aware that the default setting is public. You will likely want to create a private group for personal notes or group projects. To create a group, click on Public, and then create a new private group. For each text you highlight, you can choose which group can see your notes. This feature can be especially helpful for group study and projects. You may also wish to create a group that only you can see to store personal notes.

Now, begin reading and taking notes. Today I’m going to read and take notes on this chapter on procrastination from an online text.

When I highlight some text, I have the option to highlight or annotate the text. When you click on highlight, the text is marked with a yellow highlight, as you might expect. This can be helpful in identifying key points in the document. However, be careful not to over-highlight – be very selective in highlighting only key information.

I assumed that procrastination was always a time management problem. What might be a different reason that I procrastinate?

Finally, I can choose to add a page note that summarizes my key learnings or questions, or indicates how I might use this information in the future. As I read this page, I found the information on the Pomodoro technique useful.  If I was reading this text together with a group of classmates, I might add something like this to the notes:

I found the Pomodoro technique interesting – has anyone else used this method successfully?

My group members can then respond with their own insights.

Reading purposefully requires you to actively interact with texts. In this video, you learned how to use Hypothesis as a tool for engaging with online texts. You learned how to create an account, install the extension, and use the basic highlighting and annotation tools.

How might you use Hypothesis to support the reading in your courses?


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Learning to Learn Online Copyright © 2018 by Marti Alger, Christina Page, and Adam Vincent is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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