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Note-taking: The Essential Skill You Need to Maximise the Benefit of Your Online Course

Home » Blog » Note-taking: The Essential Skill You Need to Maximise the Benefit of Your Online Course


ote-taking is commonly associated with academic learning. Mainly, taking notes during college and university lectures. It is just as applicable to your e-learning experience though and here’s the reason why…

Note-taking is a life skill!

  • It helps inspire creative thinking – a vital ingredient for business courses
  • Training for customer facing roles requires listening skills. Taking efficient notes from audio and video included in some e-learning courses helps refine your listening skills.
  • Complex courses such as those relating to Information Technology require students to understand and recall vital pieces of information when applying the new skills in the workplace. Learning to take efficient notes will help fine-tune the information you collect, retain and recall.

Essentially, every course you take will be complemented if you learn to take efficient notes during your course.

Setting yourself up for success with efficient note-taking techniques

Paper notes are better for memory retention

Memory recall is enhanced when you write things down. For that reason, it is better to take your notes on paper rather than using a word processor. Besides, when you’re studying something online, it is going to help you focus more when you aren’t switching between a browser tab to view your course material and a word processor to take the notes down.

Instead, a legal notepad or loose-leaf jotter can be used to jot down the notes you feel are important as you go through the course material. If you plan on only using written notes, leave plenty of space between each note for you to add your comments to it. An alternative is to go through the course module/unit you’re studying and once you reach the end, then open your word processor, (Notepad, MS Word or Open Office, or Pages for Mac users) and expand on the notes you took down.

Type in the notes you took and then add your own comments to them, and format them for easy reference. The advantage of this is you can organise the notes on your computer by making the file name obvious that the notes relate to a particular module or course unit.

Write down your questions

As you go through different parts of the course, there will be questions come up. Some of your questions may be answered and others already answered. Whatever questions spring to mind as you’re studying, take a note of them. That way, once you’ve completed the module, you can then answer the questions you had. If you can’t find answers, you know what questions you need answered from the support.

Look or listen for clues that help you focus more

There will be times when numbers are used, such as in the module objectives it could be describing 7 ways to do something or 3 important things to know about x topic.

These give you a head start for your notes as you can simply write down “3 things” or “7 things” and then put a numbered list below that. Whenever one of the things from the list is mentioned, you will already have created the space in your notes to add them. That also helps keep your notes tidy so you can comprehend them when you go back to them.

Use the organisation method that helps you understand your notes better

Once you have your notes, at the end of the module, you can go further than the course tests by taking the important points you wrote down and pop them into a mind map, chart, or simply list them in bullet-point format.

Your notes are your files and not for review by your tutors. You can refer to them any time so by creating a unique summary of each module, you will be able to reference information easier at a later date.

Write a summary based on your notes

Once you’ve completed any module, to test your note taking abilities, close all other information and work from your notes only. From these, create a summary of what you have learned in the module. For every major point that was covered, you should be able to convey it in a brief summary.

Separate your thoughts and opinions from the facts

The facts are what you need to know. The notes you take will not all be fact. An important part of efficient note taking is revising them after the module is completed. The point of the notes revision is to get all your questions answered and to whittle down the notes you took that turned out to be irrelevant – there will be some.

Use browser extensions for simplicity

There are some browser extensions that simplify note-taking from web pages. An example is, which is a yellow highlighter, which will make your note taking faster. Each highlighted piece of text is also added to a clipboard and retained, however, it does require an account to use it. An alternative that doesn’t involve you sharing your email address to create an account is the Sticky Notes chrome extension. This adds a button to your browser bar that, when clicked, drops down a sticky note for you to type whatever you need to. This would be handy for taking notes from audio and video as it is likely that you can type faster than you can write, and you don’t need a new tab open. It just drops down the side of the webpage you’re on. It has formatting limitations, but for the purposes of recording notes fast, it will do the job.

In Conclusion

While every e-learning course is designed to teach you whatever you’re studying, your higher level of engagement through note-taking will help you recall the important parts that are needed to know, ensuring you have clarity from the lesson covered.

The notes you take during each course module can then be used to describe in your own words an overview of what has been learned in that module.

The more efficient you become at taking notes, the better you will be able to use the information learned in the workplace because you will have a more thorough understanding of lessons learned through enhanced memory recall.

New Skills Academy now have a note taking function built in to your course. Click on the red “Take Notes” button at the bottom of the page and you can write and save your notes and thoughts for future reference.


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