Note-taking plays a vital part in a student’s academic success. Actively taking notes during class can improve focus and understanding of main concepts. This applies to in-person or online classes. Good note-taking improves attention to detail and focus, helps you remember the concepts, promotes active listening, and improves organizational skills.

Here are 5 steps to being a better note-taker as an online student:

1. Take Notes On All Course Content

Be sure to take notes on all course material, including posted video lectures, PowerPoints, readings and discussion posts. Do not skip out on taking notes.

2. Take Notes by Hand

Handwritten notes during online courses improve retention of content. Though slower than typing, you can pause lectures as needed. Have a notebook, pen and highlighter ready to take all the notes you need.

3. Be Aware of Repetition

While watching and listening to lectures and related material, take note of anything mentioned more than once as this often means the material is significant.

4. Take Notes While Reading

All the online courses involve reading various books, articles and watching lectures on your own. For example, take notes while reading the material, rather than reading or skimming through it and jotting down a few notes later. If you don't understand something, remember the page number or put a sticky note in the margin and go back to it later.

5. Use Note-taking Software

There are a variety of note-taking software programs available to help you take, store, share and retrieve notes from any place at any time.

Though more work upfront, note-taking will save you time in the long run. Give yourself grace while taking notes. It is a skill to learn and practice, and there are many different strategies. Don’t forget to take 5-minute breaks every 40 minutes or so to give your brain a rest.

Need help or advice on note-taking? Make an appointment with your success coach.