Best Methods to Take Notes at Online College Classes

Nayreth Garcia

Nayreth Garcia

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Updated on October, 2022

How to Take Notes At Online College Classes

Online college courses have become more popular than traditional classes over the last few years.

But many online students have difficulty taking class notes because they struggle to follow the pace of the lessons or can’t type as efficiently as they can in person.

And we all know that writing notes is extremely important when you have difficulty with key concepts or developing an idea for a complicated assignment.

If you want to learn how to take notes in online college classes, you’ve come to the right place!

Gradehacker is always here to ease your mind. We have years of experience helping non-traditional adult students with their online classes, essays, exams, and more so you can get the college degree you dream of with the best study strategies for your life.

Taking notes during class doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Remember that there’s no right or wrong note-taking style! It’s about which method you feel more comfortable with and gives you good results.

You can also find all of our tips in our video:

The Classic Tools: Pen And Paper

Do you remember the first time you learned to take handwritten notes in a classroom setting?

Everyone in the class would have their papers covered with scratch-down notes, and everyone would look at them for an extra tidbit of information to consider before the exam time.

Although this method can be considered ‘old school’ for some students, it doesn’t mean it’s not helpful. Taking effective notes in the middle of class in real-time may sound challenging, but it only takes a good plan to achieve that properly.

The advantage of writing handwritten notes is that you can really learn what’s going on in the classroom, hear what’s being said, and understand what the professor is telling you.

Make A Note-Taking Plan

The first step to outstanding note-taking skills to improve your academic performance is creating a system for the notes you take. One of the top ways to pass any class is to know precisely how to record information.

To make a note-taking plan, first, decide which type of information you want to take notes on and which are subject to change based on the circumstances.

Consider using the following categories:

Invest In A Note-Taking System

If you want to leave the pen and paper behind and start taking digital notes, keep reading.

Here you’ll find great note-taking applications that will help you make the most of your time learning in class.

It’s pretty simple; each of the following note-taking methods and tools will help you take notes on the content you’re learning so you can remember and pay more attention during class.

This means you won’t have to force yourself to remember every question or topic you need to study for. If you don’t want to saturate your brain with information or take the risk of forgetting something important, having a note-taking application will help you be more organized.

That way, when you get to class, you’ll have your notes and questions ready for your professor. Here are some options:

If you are more of a visual learner and like to do sketches or drawings in your digital notes but never know how to keep them organized, then this website will suit you perfectly!

This website was created for those who prefer a visual note-taking style and want to share their detailed notes, informative drawings, and graphic recordings with others. All you need is to create an account on their website, and after receiving a confirmation email, you’re ready to start!

Visual Note Example

You can also search different post categories, but what’s really great about it is that when you upload your images, you can create a “collection” on your profile and keep it organized by different topics.

Voynetch collection
Voynetch Collection Example

If you are a visual learner, be sure to check out the best study tips we have for you!

Do you love to handwrite your notes but wish they were in a digital format, so you don’t have to carry a bunch of papers with you that will probably get mixed in with your notes from another class?

Notud is a solution to that problem!

With Notud you can handwrite or draw straight onto your tablet or iPad, and your digital notes will be saved automatically. You can use templates to save time or export your files and share them with your classmates! You can create an account or try it without one.

Notud Note Example

This tool is a Google Chrome extension that will suit you ideally to take notes from PDF files, videos, and even websites! It’s very intuitive, and all you need to do is add the extension to your chrome!

You will have a workspace where you can set a website or a PDF file on the left side of your screen and start taking notes on the right side without losing any focus on the information you’re reading or studying since you can also highlight the most important parts.

Mindstone Workspace Example

Share Your Notes With Your Classmates

This is one of the best and easiest methods for taking notes.

Online meetings are great for chatting with fellow classmates. You can create a collaborative space like a Google Docs file where you can all add your comments or set up a weekly meeting to exchange notes and ask questions.

You can also do this in real-time while you are listening to your professor’s online lecture. That way, you can clear your doubts at the moment.

Make a list of the professor’s key points. Really good professors will share valuable nuggets of information with you right away, so you can familiarize yourself with the source material when you arrive in class.

Make Sure To Review Your Notes

For most students, taking effective notes is a combination of understanding and good memory. You need to know the lecture material, but you also need to understand how to take good notes.

To get the most out of your notes, we advise you to pay attention in class and read everything you write.

Even if you’ve memorized the lecture notes, reading them can still be helpful to refresh your memory and figure out how to put the information to use. If you have doubts, don’t hesitate to ask your professor for help.

You don’t need to be a post-it note-carrying, overwhelmed student to take valuable notes.

What Are The Benefits of Having Good Notes?

During Class

Taking good notes in class is extremely important.

During your classes, it will help you focus and better understand the main concepts. It will also improve your listening, retention, and comprehension of different topics. 

Taking notes while your professor is talking will help you better remember what you hear and see. Make sure to write down only what you consider as necessary.


After Class

Writing good notes after class will help you better understand and prepare for exams and assignments.

If you manage to have efficient and concise notes, you will save time and energy and avoid confusion.

Always Be One Step Ahead Of Others With Your Notes!

As a non-traditional adult online student, you will probably have many things on your mind and won’t be able to remember everything about your latest classes, so having good notes can actually be a grade savior for your academic performance.

Taking good notes is essential, but don’t get frustrated if you can’t achieve it on your first try. It takes time, so use this list, and find the method you feel more comfortable with to lead you to effective results.

There are many ways to take great notes; all are valid, and none are wrong.

Only the way you use them will determine whether or not you are a brilliant note-taker. Try these methods out for yourself, and let us know which one works best for you!

Gradehacker will always be here to help you and make your college life easier. Feel free to visit our services page to learn how we can help you, or continue exploring our learning center to find more articles.

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