Pen on paper/notes

2015-16 Term 2 Week 5: Learning Journal – UoPeople

Notes, notes, notes and more notes. Now that week 5 is under wraps it’s time for final preparations for the 2nd graded quiz of the term. I’ve switched up a few things in my routine since I first started here. Mainly I stopped using my laptop for notes as much, and have reverted to the old fashioned pen and paper.

So why the switch? Mostly because I only have one monitor, so it’s just been too much hassle trying to juggle multiple windows on one screen. I can type pretty fast, which was the main reason for choosing the method of keyboarding notes rather than penning them, but the constant back and forth between webpages and the strain on my eyes from glaring into the computer screen makes everything feel “blah” by the end of the day.

After switching to pen and paper, I feel that changing my gaze from monitor to paper constantly is easier on my eyes, and for some reason physically writing down notes seems to give me better retention too.

Another huge benefit is the ability to draw out diagrams and mind maps more efficiently. These are important study techniques that I would skip out on often because it just takes to long to create something like that on a computer. If I did use diagrams in my notes it would usually be an image that I just copied and pasted, so it wasn’t really enforcing the concepts well, since I wasn’t spending the time creating them myself.

By using pen and paper, I’m able to draw out ideas and process rather quickly, and the whole process of drawing it all out help the ideas stick, rather than fluttering away by the following week. Retention has been a huge challenge for online learning so far, and this has really helped me out a lot.

Check it out; here’s some notes I scratched to explain the steps of processing post-fix expressions with a stack:

notes on postfix expressions

One draw back though – as you can see above – is my terrible writing… How can I go back and read any of this?

On a serious note, drawing this out really helped me understand what was going on in this deceivingly complicated process. It was also very quick to do this, I only needed 3 tools, a pen, paper, and a ruler. I didn’t have to worry about alignment, or getting my mouse cursor on the right pixel, or waiting for something to load, or any thing related to making a diagram with software.

Computers can solve a lot of big, and really important problems, but some things are just best done on paper. Like tracing out a sorted binary tree, and printing the elements in post-order, pre-order, and in-order traversal for example 🙂

Life at UoPeople has been very rewarding, but challenging as well. To stay focused, motivated, organized and on track, I’ve had to experiment with a few different strategies for making it all work. I’ve tried polyphasic sleep cycles, time management apps, note taking techniques, study music, brain training, exercise, reading exercises, typing games – all sorts of weird and tried-and-trued methods to help increase my efficiency at school while maintaining a good work/life/school balance.

I’m due for a couple more articles to recap on some of the study tips I’ve shared earlier in the year, but for now, I’m going to share just one that’s helped me out a lot recently.

Pomodoro Technique

It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. It’s basically another time management tool, but it’s a simple one to use, and it has a catchy name, with a nice logo. I’m not well adverse in time management myself, so it’s not like I’m the ultimate testament to how it works or anything – but it’s been working for me.

The basics of the technique are simple: Pick a task that needs to be done, then set a timer for 25 minutes and do nothing else but that task. No checking email, taking phone calls, texting, messaging, googling, YouTube-ing – nothing. The goal is to stay 100% focused on a task for 25 minutes, then follow up with a 5 minute break. It not only helps you to be more productive while you’re committed to the 25 minute block (called a pomodoro), but it also helps to keep you productive throughout the day.

The concept is that by taking short breaks more often throughout the day, you will have more energy as the day goes on, and you will be more productive when you are not on break. It’s also supposed to help make you feel better about relaxing at the end of the day too – but I don’t understand that one. You should never feel bad about taking time to chill once in a while – it can be just as productive as anything else in my opinion – and why do we always have to be so productive all the time to feel good anyways?

The point is, this has helped me accomplish more during my normal working hours, and it really has reduced stress too. I tried this technique for a bit earlier in the year but I failed to stick with it. Now that I’m reintroducing myself to it, I wish I never stopped. That’s one pomodoro by the way, so it’s time for my break 🙂

Here, check the video about it:

Cheers,

Dan

2 thoughts on “2015-16 Term 2 Week 5: Learning Journal – UoPeople”

  1. Thanks Sebastian! I actually was second guessing myself on CS a bit when I first started. Business and economics is something I’m really interested in too. I plan to use my electives on business courses though. Thanks for the comment, cheers!

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