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Taking Notes on Primary Sources with Drupal

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As George noted in September, we’ve had a long-standing fascination with note-taking here at ProfHacker. (Heck, back before ProfHacker was a thing, I’d had a popular note-taking assignment, called Wikified Class Notes.) We’ve had posts on note-taking with AppleScript, paraphrasing as note-taking, note-taking in Zotero, note-taking with iOS, note-taking on a Nook Color … there’ve been a lot of posts about note-taking.

And with good reason! The ability to take good notes is an essential skill for research and learning, and yet it’s one of those things that’s often under-taught.

So, I was delighted to see John Stewart’s post on “Digital note-taking in the History Classroom” , which describes a process he’s built in Drupal to help his students take good, useful notes on primary sources. He’s quite clear on the various advantages of digital, shareable notes:

it teaches students how to take notes. Raphael can give formative feedback on the note cards themselves and share best practices. Class time can also be used to discuss the ontology of historical evidence and the epistemology of critical reading and constructing valuable notes.

Finally, when it comes time to draw on the notes, students can draw on the total Card Stack: the pool of notes for a given source, a set of sources, or even all the sources in the system. They cite each other as the originator of a thought about a source, emphasizing the communal construction of understanding about a historical event, and also cite the original source itself preserving the bibliographic practices at the center of traditional historical practice.

He’s got screen shots and some more detail at the site, so do read the whole thing!

Do you have a favorite digital note-taking strategy with your students? Please share in comments!

Photo “Notes” by Flickr user English106 / Creative Commons licensed BY–2.0

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