How to ‘attend’ audio/video lectures, including note-taking
Making the most of a course of study by Distance Learning means not only learning to take full advantage of the suite of resources used to make this study a reality, but also depends on your being diligent in applying the skills that are essential to study in any environment. This document explains the best way to ‘attend’ a recorded lecture, including essential note-taking skills.
Firstly, a word on note-taking during Distance Learning lectures
One of the most important study skills is note-taking; in particular, the taking of notes during lectures. If you were attending a lecture on a campus or in a seminary hall, it goes without saying that you would have a notebook open on your desk, and that you would apply yourself to taking notes on the lecture as you attended it: key points made by the speaker; references he or she mentioned in his talk; thoughts or questions that occurred to you as you listened; etc.
Your success in ‘attending’ lectures by Distance Learning — whether they are audio or video lectures, or live-chat/live-video sessions — will depend on applying the same diligence to the important task of note-taking.
Not only does taking notes during a lecture help you extract from a given talk key points that are the most central in your mind; the act of taking notes is also a critical ingredient in ‘digesting’ the host of information that most lectures include. As lecturers speak, you should strive to note key points and themes, translating them from the speaker’s words into your own words (you can always listen to the speaker again, on-line) — this is essential in making the transition from a passive listener to an active student who is reflecting on, absorbing, and coming to understand the materials to which you are being exposed. By ‘translating’ the lecturer’s words into your own, you force yourself to contemplate the speaker’s meaning, ensuring that you understand it well enough to say it in your own terms and manner — and if you find that you don’t, then you can take note of that fact as well, and raise your confusion or question in an associated discussion forum, blog or tutorial session.
One of the key benefits of recorded lectures is that you can pause the playback so as to allow you to write down your notes fruitfully, without the need to rush to keep up with the speaker. This means that you have every opportunity at your disposal to create a good set of notes from every lecture you ‘attend’ on-line, and you should consider the act of note-taking an essential, irreplaceable step in lecture work via Distance Learning. Not only will you understand the material far better: you will also find yourself far more prepared when the time comes to write assignments and essays, as you will have your concise notes to guide you, as well as practice in framing key concepts in your own words.
“How should I, practically speaking, go about ‘attending’ my lectures?”
In order to make the most of the Distance Learning lecture experience, you should treat your ‘attendance’ at recorded lectures with the same seriousness and focus that you would a live lecture on campus. That is, you should not casually listen to content while taking a stroll or engaging in other things (though, after you’ve ‘attended’ the lecture properly, you might well want to listen to it again on a walk or in the car, as an excellent opportunity for review). Generally speaking, you should plan to ‘attend’ recorded lectures (whether audio or video) in the following manner:
- Ensure that you and your computer are in a quiet, private room, free from distractions (such as telephones, televisions, or other people), and that you have a block of time equal to the length of the lecture free, without interruption (just like a live lecture, you should intend to listen to the whole lecture in a single session; do not break it up into small pieces).
- Have a notebook or ample writing paper set out in front of you, together with a pencil or pen — these are the necessary tools for the essential act of note-taking during the lecture.
- Load the lecture on your computer. If it is an audio lecture with slides, make sure the slides are visible on the screen, so that you can view them and progress from one slide to the next at the lecturer’s prompting.
- Before you begin the lecture itself, stand before your icons and offer a prayer to God, for guidance in your studies and a heart that grows in conformity to the Truth of His Church.
- Initiate the lecture on your computer, and listen/watch attentively to the whole lecture, taking extensive notes as you go (following the guidance above). Feel free to pause the lecture whenever you wish, so as to have the time to write out a note without missing what the lecturer says next. You can also re-wind the playback if you missed something, or want to hear a point again.
- When the lecture is complete, be sure that you return to your icons and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for this time of study and growth.
You may find that, for the purposes of review, you will want to listen to a whole lecture multiple times, or re-visit key sections. You can do this at any time (sometimes it is best to let a few days pass, for the materials to ‘digest’, before listening to a lecture again — often you will find that you perceive points the second time through that you did not on the first hearing). Remember that you can also review the slides of a lecture at any time, without having to listen to the audio again.