Collaborative note-taking

One of the difficult things about seminar-based discussion is that some of the most intense, important conversations often pass by without record. This can be especially frustrating for those of us who find it difficult to take in and think through complex conversations while also writing down points we want to remember.

In this class, we’ll collectivize the note-taking project by having different class members take on the task of recording key points from discussion every week. We will have at least two official note-takers per week so that no one’s on point for the full 2.5 hours; anyone can also join in and add to the document at any time.

To make the collective note-taking count for something, I have assigned it a percentage of your grade. Everyone in the class will receive the same grade, based on the percentage of weeks that have had notes taken in the collective document.

Note-taking tips

It’s likely that some of us find note-taking easier than others, whether for reasons of disability or simply personal strengths and weaknesses. Because of that, I leave it up to you to decide how many weeks you’d like to sign up to take notes for. If you know it’s one of your superpowers, take on a few;  if the idea makes you nervous, try it out without signing up; if you know you won’t be able to do it at all, don’t do it – but maybe you can find ways to help make sure the collective notes happen, like checking in on the Google Doc regularly.

When you’re up for note-taking, bear in mind that you can’t possibly capture everything that everyone says. Do what you can. If you miss something because you were noting down the previous comment, ask the speaker to repeat it. We can all stand to hear things twice sometimes! And bear in mind that these notes are as confidential as what you say in class and what you post on the blog. Don’t share anyone’s words outside the classroom space unless you have their permission.

Find our notes document here.

Sign up for notetaking sessions at this link (use tabs at bottom of sheet to navigate). It probably isn’t a great idea to take notes and lead discussion on the same day.