You’ve been there before — while taking notes in a college lecture you find yourself scrambling to write everything down, while simultaneously trying to absorb what your professor is saying.
Or you could be studying abroad and taking a course taught in a language you’re fluent in, but not fluent enough to catch everything the first time around.
In cases such as these, you might as well accept that you’re not going to catch all of it.
If the thought of that worries you — if you’re a student who wishes to get as much out of a college lecture as you possibly can — then perhaps recording college lectures and then taking notes from them later is the method for you.
Here are some pros and cons of recording college lectures:
1. Fewer Temptations = Fewer Distractions
Let’s face it: No matter how hard you try to focus on the lecture while taking notes on your computer, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up on Facebook, Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post…basically, any site that has absolutely nothing to do with anything you’re learning in class.
Turning off the computer may help you focus on what’s in front of you — you know, that professor with the PowerPoint who has been tasked with the job of teaching you.
(Note: You may want to sit in the front row so you’re not distracted by the students who are on Facebook and Buzzfeed.)
2. Focus on Facts Themselves (Rather Than How Many There Are)
When I took notes in college, there were many instances in which I felt pressured to simply get down as much of what was said and worry about the details later. But when it came time for later, my notes were either still too sparse to form a decent enough picture, or I hadn’t taken enough time in class to try to understand the content the first time around.
Recording college lectures could allow you to forget about time constraints while listening, which can let you remain focused on what you’re learning.
3. Specifics, specifics, specifics
Occasionally there will come along a professor who explains things brilliantly. Ideally, all college students will come into contact with at least one in their academic careers.
In these cases, recording a lecture would be beneficial because it allows you to have your brilliant professor’s lesson examples in your hands. Plus you could always transcribe your notes at a later time and create a useful study guide for the final.
1. False Sense of Comfort
Maybe you’re the kind of student who needs to have something to do while sitting in class, and this need is executed through taking notes — otherwise you’d be daydreaming. If so, the ease of recording your lectures may provide you with a false sense of comfort and you may think that because your audio recording device is paying attention, you don’t have to.
This could prove detrimental later on. If you can’t pay attention in a class in which you’re face to face with your instructor, do you really think you’ll have the urge to go back and listen to the lecture later when you’re back in your room? Probably not.
In this case, you may want to stick with old-fashioned note taking. Try handwriting your notes in cursive or drawing quick illustrations to back up the material and stay engaged.
2. Privacy Concerns
Many schools have policies in which you have to receive permission from administration, faculty and classmates before recording a lecture due to privacy concerns. Depending on the size or topic of your class, this may be a long process.
Be sure to check with your professor before pressing that red button. Failure to do so only has the potential to make your classmates feel uncomfortable or get you and/or your professor into trouble.
3. Not Your Way of Learning
As alluded to earlier, everyone learns different ways. Perhaps the best way for you to absorb new material is to write down what you learn as you learn it — regardless of whether or not you’re able to get it all word for word.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t.
It’s much more effective and constructive to take your own notes in as personalized a way as possible. Oftentimes, doing so will encourage you to come up with your own way of understanding the material through note taking techniques such as paraphrasing, coming up with your own abbreviations and creating outlines.
If you think recording college lectures and playing them back later could improve your learning, it’s certainly worth a try. After going through the necessary protocols, give it a shot with one of your classes. Choose carefully; you may not want to experiment the week before a big test.
Finally, you could always record your lectures with an audio recorder and your hands. Better to have all your bases covered!