It happens to all of us.  Digital overload.  Or maybe just life overload, and the digital world is an easy target.

I read through chapter 2 (in Teaching Writing Using Blogs, Wikis, and other Digital Tools) about technological options for collecting and organizing information.  I was excited about digital notetaking (especially after seeing Zach use his tablet PC in class this summer!), and I went right to the book’s wiki resource site to explore all the options mentioned in the chapter.  Each link brought me to some kind of review or overview or product description, but I really didn’t feel like I gleaned the power of the notetaking tools themselves.  And now I’m in the too-much-information mode, where I know that there are some great resources out there but I don’t know how to use them or how I can use them in my work with students.  Overwhelmed is the word I’m looking for.

The idea of digital notetaking appeals to me primarily because “traditional” notetaking can be very complicated for my students.  Notetaking requires: proficient fine motor skills, the ability to hold information in your head and then transcribe it, basic spelling skills (so you can at least read your own notes), the ability to summarize auditory information, metacognitive skills that allow you to organize/categorize information before transcribing it, and of course, the ability to focus on the presenter long enough to absorb the material.  I address some of these issues with existing assistive technology in the district (CoWriter, Kidspiration, portable word processors), but I feel like those tools just scratch the surface of what’s possible.

I guess I need to see some of the digital notetaking software in action in order to understand how it works.  This is a call to you, my fellow cohorts: if you use something like FreeMind, KeyNote, Webnotes, show me how it works for you!  Tell me how you think it could work for students.

On a more upbeat, excited note: check out the links I added at the bottom of my “blogging makes me happy post.”  Very cool things going on in a Staten Island classroom!


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