Incorporating note taking in computer classes

computer note taking

Software changes, buttons move and things don’t work the same, I say, and the notes beginning computer users are so fond of taking are worthless when a new program version or operating system overtakes the old one they grew accustomed to. At least that’s what I thought. But some people just like taking notes. Or they don’t trust their memory, or they need to make sense of the logic on their own time. It all sounds great when I say, “Left click here. Then here. It’s like those Russian nesting dolls. Files within folders within folders.” But at the computer screen by themselves the next day, they don’t have much to refer to. They didn’t take notes during the class, or they stopped early on because it was something I tolerated instead of something I encouraged (beyond offering a pen or paper).

So I came up with this:

Computer note taking aidIt’s an example note taking aid for creating an MS Word file, step by step. I’ve shown some patrons whom I know well the blank version of this when they’ve asked me for computer help. Some have taken to the idea right away; others haven’t and have said “no thanks” in a shooing kind of way. But when I get to use this example in a computer class, I plan on asking students to complete the aid, starting from lines three and four, and using the boxes on the right for visual aid, to get an idea of how to use it. Then, when the classes get hands-on with step by step instruction, they’ll feel compelled to fill out aids in their own words, and refer to them in and outside of class.

And at the top, noting the program and operating system version the steps apply to reinforces the idea that these notes can (excuse me: WILL) change when the versions change.

(First image by Brady Withers via Flickr.)

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