20 May 2009
A few weeks ago, colleague told me about a new note-taking tool. Annotation Tool allows for collaborative note taking of .pdf documents on-line. Instructors can post .pdf documents on-line and then students (or others) can highlight sections of the text and add their comments. It's an easy to use, intuitive website and pretty, too. Sounds to me like a great teaching tool and also a neat tool for seminars or group work where everyone is reading the same texts.
I spend a lot of time thinking about taking notes and reading about taking notes. It's fantastic procrastination. For my work and research, I do a whole lot of reading. Let me rephrase that, I am supposed to do a whole lot of reading. It can be rather overwhelming, though. There are more bookshelves in our house than any other type of furniture - maybe even chairs. Wait a minute, now I'm mentally counting... There are five chairs (not counting folding) and seven bookshelves. Wow, I was right.
One of my biggest challenges with all this reading, though, is note taking. Where do I take notes, how do I take notes, and, most importantly, how to I take notes that will be useful in the future. In order for notes to be useful, I have to be able to find them, read them, and find the text (especially citations) that they refer to. Taking notes on the page seems to make the most sense. But there's a rub. There's always a rub. I try to keep most of my pages legible so that they can be photocopied for teaching or sharing if necessary. Taking notes digitally also seems logical, but it's a mess. Then I have to have a computer around when I'm reading. Furthermore, I'm tied to one computer or stuck with trying to remember whether the most recent file is on my memory stick or on the hard drive. On-line note taking with google docs is helping that, but then there's the internet thing.
There are a lot of potential solutions for me and I have the piles of notebooks (all sizes) and binders to prove it. Maybe the Annotation Tool will help me save a couple trees and embrace a little more technology, too!