Taking Notes

There was a really interesting article in the New York Times this morning on new technologies that help with taking notes.  The focus of the article was Livescribe, a pen that records what is being said at the time it is being used to write (so you can play back what you missed later).

Medical school is a lot different from other educational experiences.  Most of the time, you will be given notes for your classes (either powerpoint slide handouts or a syllabus).  So, it’s not so much about taking notes, it’s about how you organize that information, annotate it and then review it.   I’ve already covered some general advice about taking notes in basic sciences, during clinical rotations and during your residency, but I didn’t really go into how to organize that information.  After reading the article this morning, it struck me that there really might be some new technology out there which might make this task a little easier  In the spirit of full disclosure:  I haven’t used any of these, so this shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement!

Perfectnotes.  This is software that, much like the pen developed by Livescribe, creates an audio recording of a lecture while you are taking notes on the computer.  It creates a timeline that links your notes and the audio recording so you can go to specific points in the lecture, rather than having to listen to the entire lecture.

Notescribe.  This is a desktop and/or online note taking software.  It looks well designed and has the benefit of being able to search your notes by category, key words, sources, etc.  It also has the ability to share notes between people, which would be very helpful for study groups.   The online version gives you access to your notes from any computer, which would be very handy on clinical rotations or as a resident.

OneNote.  This is a Microsoft product for organizing notes.  If you take notes during class from PowerPoint slides provided by the professor, this program can link your notes to the source document. You can share your notes or create “common” notebooks using the OneNote web app

Evernote This is a great program for organizing your peripheral brain for the clinics, but probably not as powerful for taking and using study notes. For the Mac, there are several other options similar to Evernote – for example:  Circusponies NoteBook, Aquaminds Note Taker, Soho notes,  and Yojimbo

From a forum on studentdoctor.net I found this advice: “The cheapest and easiest thing is to print powerpoints to pdf, then use the annotate tool in preview.app to make notes directly on the slide. From there, you can drag and drop the pdf into iTunes, and manage all of your pdf’s in there (just like music files).”

Any and all comments or suggestions are welcome either by commenting below or sending me a message!

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