I take a lot of notes on notability. It’s sort of therapeutic, using calligraphy to write notes and creating colorful diagrams to aid in visual learning. However, in this assignment, I wanted to make a mind map of everything we’ve learned so far in physics. The portion enclosed within the blue rectangle are sketches from my previous notes, and everything else is hand-drawn for this assignment. Creating this actually helped me prepare for my test since I was able to visualize the material better. Furthermore, two parts of the sketch are “step-by-step tips” that explained how to solve an electricity problem. In addition, an aliens and astronaut are stuck together in physics land and the only way out is to answer a question. Answering an electric field problem using the steps outlined in the notes was a great way to practice for the upcoming test. I really liked incorporating funny doodles and characters with dialogue within these notes, and I found myself having fun studying physics (never happened before). I also kept looking back at the notes because it was pretty, and before I knew it, the steps to solve an electric field problem were ingrained in my head.
I think I got carried away as I really enjoyed doodling—the planets sketch took more than two hours alone. I kept wanting to add more and more elements, despite having spent ages on this assignment. Maybe I could sell this study guide for some money.
My visual note taking process obviously started with me taking real notes first. In my ISOM class, we learned about something called the “simple decision tree.” This is used to find the optimal decision in terms of spending money for profit. For example, renting or not renting an umbrella for a hotdog stand everyday in Seattle is a common situation that would occur. How much more would one make if they rented it every day? Is it worth renting? Will the profits be higher or lower if you rent? A real decision tree is similar to a visual table, with different lines emerging depending on the decision one makes. Making it into a literal tree makes a lot of sense. Each branch represents a certain decision. The shortest being the worst while the longest is the optimal. Visualizing the tree into a real tree actually helped with my understanding of what each branch does. Obviously, the one I drew would be super simple, but as they get more complicated there would be more branches.
I typically take written notes during class in the form of bullets or an outline. Therefore, this visual note-taking assignment forced me out of my comfort zone as I adapted my written notes I took during my Italian class into a visual representation. I enjoyed this assignment because it caused me to revisit my notes, approaching them from a creative point of view. I reflected on the visual representations of the vocabulary we are currently covering in my Italian class. Adapting these words and phrases into images reminded me of the Italian culture I love. Moving forward, I will strongly consider implementing visual note-taking into my daily habits during my online classes, particularly in my Italian class but in other courses as well.
‘Visual Note Taking’ assignment helped me to find a strategy for understanding and memorizing the content. As my note is composed of images and is more colorful, I was able to better understand the confusing part of my BIO 142 class content. I was struggling on memorizing details of the model before, but I could be more familiarized with the model and details just by drawing. I found out that visualizing is important when I study, especially for Biology which requires memorizing. It was interesting to take a visual note, since it actually helped me a lot. I want to incorporate visual note taking for my chemistry class and other courses.
So, as you can tell, I’m not the greatest at visual notes. Which is strange because, back in middle school and early high school, those were the only kinds of notes I took. I think the main reason now is just because, I just don’t take a lot of notes. I know I know that makes me a bad student in the eyes of a few but I’m a theatre major. In my theatre classes we don’t learn by lecture and note taking, but rather by practice. In fact, most of my classes we just don’t lecture anymore. Most of my note taking is done outside the class room while reading whatever assigned text I have. These aren’t even from a class but rather from my latin tutoring, and with latin being structured the way it is they’re no strong visual components for the subjunctive verbs. It is nice to do my notes in different colors again. Having them separated by color somehow lets me compartmentalize them easier. If I ever do go back to re do a sketch assignment. It will probably be this one.
During the process of creating my visual notes, I learned that it is much easier to take notes visually. It saves a lot more time compared to writing notes traditionally, and creates an actual image that my brain can remember instead of pure text. It is also much easier to connect ideas through visual notes as it is more free flowing and does not have to follow a structure. I found the overall process very enjoyable because I did not have to confine my thoughts, but I can let them flow freely. I think I might start taking notes for some classes in a more visual format from now on.
For my visual note-taking exercise, I chose to reformat a section of my Continued Writing Course “Thinking with Fungi”. During the section, I wanted to really try to use flowcharts drawings, and non-conventional word placements to create a page that would help me “take-in” the material easier. I am more of a visual learning and I think that this helped in a way that I had the freedom to group things however I want as opposed to the “vertical” organizational structure of notes inside of a document would be like. Before doing this assignment, I had a process of thinking about a rough idea of how I wanted to organize the ideas and what kind of images/graphs I wanted to put inside of it. I found it enjoyable because I was just exposing myself again to the material I had just learned, and I was able to do some drawing of the fungi and plants. However, I think that I would not do this regularly because it took up more time and it takes more effort to hand write out notes that I have already typed, and this was for a writing class which would make it hard for me to organize the notes if I were to write an essay using points from the notes.
While creating my notes, I felt like I struggled more than necessary since I tend to consider myself a visual learner. I suppose it’s because I feel like I can usually learn or remember something being taught with a visual already provided by somebody else—sometimes I will just tweak it to accommodate for myself. Not only did I struggle with coming up with proper and somewhat efficient visuals, I also struggled with deciding what info I should even mainly focus on/worry about including. By doing this Sunday sketch, it only emphasized the fact that I do not know how to study since all I want to do—when there’s motivation—are pretty color-coded handwritten notes, as well as making me realize I should include visuals in my notes when possible—my memory as a whole is terrible but I reckon I usually try to rely on photographic memory for many things, especially closed-book/note tests. The idea of visual notes is fun, but the fact that it’s time consuming and I left it till the last minute made it a little less fun.
For this sketch I decided to visualize my notes on isolating plasmid DNA from bacteria. In biology class we were doing this lab and we had to take notes on the procedure, as we only had only one hour to complete this lab due to COVID restrictions. My mind thinks in both words and pictures. I know not many people have an internal monologue, but I do. I have always wondered what aspect of my mind is used in when I learn and process things.
When I initially took notes, I did not use any pictures and memorized the procedure verbally. When I did this, it took me some time to memorize and it was more recitatory. I had to go through the all the steps of the procedure to get to certain detail. When I visualized the notes into this sketch, it was much easier to memorize, and I could isolate certain details by visualizing the image in my head. It is almost like photographic memory, but a very very dull version. It was very interesting to draw my notes as biology labs are often centered around the microscopic world, and doing the lab in person seems mundane. I tried to make these steps more animated to make easier to visualize in my head.
When I was drawing up my notes, I realized how related different topics were to each other. When I just wrote generic notes for a specific lecture, I had a tunnel vision focus on whatever I was taking notes on and did not try to connect it to the whole lecture. When you draw visual notes, it is much easier to see a more general outline of the lecture. I also saw myself trying to apply the knowledge instead of just trying to memorize it.