Best Methods to Take Notes at Online College Classes

Nayreth Garcia

Nayreth Garcia

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Online college courses have become more popular than traditional classes over the last few years. But many non-traditional students have difficulty taking notes in class because they can’t write or type as efficiently as they can in person. Writing down your notes on paper is not the only effective way to study. In this article, you’ll learn the best methods to take notes in online college classes.

Your guide to taking excellent, effective notes is finally here. Your days of looking back at what you scribbled down in class and trying to decipher helpful information from them before a test are over. Notes are extremely important when you have difficulty with a specific topic or developing an idea for a complicated assignment

Gradehacker is always here to ease your mind. We have years of experience helping non-traditional students through online college courses, assignments, 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. It’s about which method you feel more comfortable with and gives you good results, so let’s start with our list:

The Classic Tools: Pen And Paper

Do you remember the first time you learned to take notes in a classroom setting? Everyone in the class would have their papers covered with scratch-down notes, and everyone would look at their notes for an extra tidbit of information to consider before a test.

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 doing this is how 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, keep reading. Here you’ll find great note-taking apps that will help you make the most of the time you spend learning in class. It’s pretty simple; each of the following notes-taking methods and tools will help you take notes in the content you’re learning so you can remember and absorb more in 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 tool 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 as your notes but never know how to keep them organized, then this website will suit you perfectly!

This website was created to share your visual 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 and 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. So, when you need to study or review a specific subject, you won’t have a problem finding it.

Voynetch collection
Voynetch Collection Example

You love to handwrite your notes, but you 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 for that problem!

With Notud you can handwrite or draw straight onto your tablet or iPad, and your notes will be saved automatically. You can use templates to save time, 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 or set up a google meeting once a week to exchange notes and ask questions. You can also do this while you are listening to your professor’s online lecture; that way, they can clear your doubts at the moment. 

Make a list of the professor’s key points. The really good professors will share valuable nuggets of information with you right away, so you can familiarize yourself with the material when you arrive in class. What if the professor doesn’t reveal key details until later? You can still record the lecture.  

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 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 and read everything you write. 

Even if you’ve memorized the material, reading it 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?

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 the 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 every class, having good notes is essential to review and study class material to better understand and prepare for exams or any other assignments. If you manage to have efficient and concise notes, you will save time, energy and avoid any confusion. If you take notes when watching a video, it will save you from the annoyance of pausing, rewinding, and rewatching large parts of a lecture.

As a non-traditional student, you will probably have many things in 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 different ways to take great notes, all of them 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 or continue exploring our learning center to find more articles. We’re going to leave you a few you might be interested in:

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