Paper: The Secret Learning Tool That Will Work for You

Paper: The Secret Learning Tool That Will Work for You

Paper is still your ally in making learning yours. Whether you played with board books as a toddler, finished worksheets of multiplication tables in grade school or handwrote notes in high school, paper helped you make learning tangible. Now, as an adult, you have access to a universe of information thanks to online learning, and paper should still be a part of your learning journey. Paper teaches us how to learn.

Whatever form your online learning takes—professional development courses, YouTube videos, virtual discussion groups, or online instruction through outlets such as Duolingo —paper can help. With online learning, you have all the information in the world in front of you, which can be a lot to take in. Paper can help you focus on the task at hand without getting distracted. Paper-based note-taking techniques also help you understand information and remember it in ways that are more helpful than passively listening to a video.

Three paper-based tools in particular can help you get more from what you’re learning: sketchnoting, bullet journaling and the Cornell note-taking method. Here’s what you need to know.

Sketchnoting

What it is: A form of note-taking that uses sketches along with written notes. Sketchnoting can be done as you listen to a lesson, after a lesson to boost comprehension and memory retention, and as support for any self-guided learning.

Why it works: Research shows that we’re likelier to remember information if we draw it. Plus, it’s fun! People who try it say they enjoy it.

How to get started:

Download and print our sketchnoting worksheet now.
View and print the sketchnoting worksheet.

Bullet Journaling

What it is: Using a notebook to record tasks, notes, thoughts and other information using a system of symbols that help you stay on task and capture information in one place.

Why it works: Writing down to-dos and information in one place that’s free of digital distraction is convenient and lets people easily track progress on their goals.

How to get started:

  • Read this article for an overview of bullet journaling.
  • Watch this five-minute video from Ryder Carroll, the method’s creator, for bullet journaling 101.
  • Browse the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram to see how enthusiasts are using it.
  • Print out our worksheet and start bullet journaling.
Download and print our bullet journaling worksheet now.
View and print the bullet journaling worksheet.

Cornell Note-Taking System

What it is: A simple two-column system of taking notes that boosts comprehension and reflection. Regular notes go in the right column, questions prompted by the material go in the left column, and a summary goes at the bottom.

Why it works: Taking notes by hand helps you understand and remember information. The Cornell method in particular reinforces this by directly asking learners to contextualize and sum up information.

How to get started:

  • Read the basic steps of Cornell-style notes, and compare them with other structured note-taking techniques.
  • Print out our Cornell notes printable and multiple copies of our template—you’ll start taking better notes right away.
Download and print our Cornell notes template now.
View and print the Cornell notes template.
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