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. Given the pandemic, this also has the advantage of making synchronous class discussions accessible to those who are absent or who get called away during class.

Each class session will have a dedicated google doc, which everyone can edit. The link will be shared in Slack, on our signup sheet, and at the beginning of the Zoom session. Before class, I or the students leading discussion will set up discussion questions and headings in the document and/or link to any visuals or slides that are used in class; students can then record the discussion as it goes. When we work in breakout sessions, each session should nominate one participant to make sure the session’s conversation is recorded.

Some of us find note-taking easier than others, whether for reasons of disability or simply personal strengths and weaknesses. You all know your own capacities. Therefore, I leave it up to you to decide how and whether you contribute to the shared notes. But if you are planning to take notes for yourself anyway, I strongly encourage you to consider sharing them. If you prefer not to write publicly in real time, you can make notes on your own and copy them into the document after class.

When you’re taking notes, 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 at the website. Never share anyone’s words outside the classroom space unless you have their permission.

On the first day of class, we will discuss what policies we might like to collectively implement in our shared note-taking. (For example, should names be attached to comments?)