This is a sponsored post for Open Training Institute
In my nine years of tertiary study (ermagherd!), you could say that I have it down to a fine art.
I have read countless tips and tricks articles, perused plenty of studies, and tried just about every tactic known to man in an attempt to absorb and learn information.
I’m a bit of a notes-lover – I find I retain way more if I’ve personally written information down with a pen and paper (or pencil, damn do I love writing in pencil). It seems like the time it takes for my hand to copy down the words means my brain has a chance to cement it in.
I’ve talked previously about my love for stationery, and a couple of good pens, nice writing paper, a ruler, and some highlighters can’t be beat. I love a neatly-titled page, ruled off with red pen. Lots of white space, highlighted sections, and everything filed in chronological order.
I only recently recycled all my notes from my journalism and politics degree, and was amused to see I’d neatly filed everything in course outline – lecture note – my notes – handouts – marked assessments order. Everything in crisp plastic sleeves, holes punched at exactly the right height, the works. I even had colour-coded highlighter flag markers on pertinent points I thought I might like to revisit at a later date. Right there, I just lost all my street cred. I’m no hip young thing, I’m a deadset nerd. Y’all go and enjoy yourselves and I’ll sit here with my Dickens.
No but really, it became second nature after a while. I DO like things to be ordered, but it also did help with retaining content. In addition to clear, easy-to-read notes, I also recommend:
- writing notes as quickly as you can after the class. I like to listen during the lecture and jot down some really outstanding points, but mostly listen. Then afterward I take a few minutes to write an outline of what I heard and remembered. YOU WILL FORGET, so don’t just assume you’ll be fine to recall it next Friday. You won’t.
- Using visual cues – this can mean colour-coding your highlighted bits, drawing pictures, arrows to certain content, using darker or bigger writing, anything you can do to break up the black-on-white pages of notes. You’ll be surprised at just how much you can visualise when you need to.
- Using mnemonics for certain things you need to remember, like lists or properties of things. I especially love the loci method, where you imagine each item in a certain place that’s familiar. I still remember a giant set of grapes on a staircase I imagined when we had to memorise a shopping list as one of our psychology experiments.
- Having an interest in the topic does help. If I’m not interested in it, or it seems a bit above my brain capacity to understand, I always read things twice. First to just get the feel of it, then to take notes. You really have to force yourself to concentrate, or you’ll read the same sentence 97 times and still not care about it one bit.
- I find I study best and retain the most in the morning. The earlier the better.
- The most effective way to remember something is to teach it. I would explain what I’d learnt that day to my husband and it never failed to entrench in my mind the things I needed to know, but also revealed the gaps in my knowledge I needed to revisit.
- Eat well + sleep well. both of which I’m failing right now!
I was all set to bring this almost-decade of failsafe tricks to my marketing course at OTI, when I realised they’re one step ahead of me, and have reimagined these decades of academic knowledge for the digital age. Their virtual classroom has really cool interactive lessons for each topic (where you don’t have to click to the next page until you’re ready), the information is provided in slightly different ways each time so it doesn’t all just run into each other, there are big, bright images to accompany the text, and a bit of movement/animation to break up sub-topics.
For those of you who asked, here is what the platform looks like. This is kind of the dashboard where you can see how far you’ve got left in a module (awesome feature!), which module you’re on, your learning section (which takes you to the “classroom”), what you’ve got up next, and other bits and bobs all in the one place.
This is what the virtual classroom looks like. Usually about 15 slides, and the option to complete the assessment questions at the end.
There are also slides-within-slides to break up the monotony a bit, and I love the use of colour to help things stand out. Everything is bright and clean and kind of fun to click through.
Especially the interactive areas. You’re not likely to glaze over and zone out if you’re forced to interact for more information! Plus they’re a nice change of pace.
I’ve been getting marked “satisfactory” (it’s either that or unsatisfactory, so I’ll take it) on my assessment questions so I dare say this method of instruction is working! Time will tell when I face a bigger assignment. But don’t you worry, I’ve got plenty of tips to handle those successfully too.