Research shows that students learn best within a community. In class, it makes sense to take smarter notes, not just more notes. One way to learn more effectively is to build a personal learning network, or PLN. A PLN is group of resources, people, or even tools that you can turn to, to help fill in any gaps in your knowledge. If you are getting behind in calculus or statistics, you might find practicing with Khan Academy videos, in addition to taking notes and attending class, a helpful exercise. There are YouTube videos that can help with everything from the finer points of a pocket stitch, to understanding the French Revolution. Tutors are available on campus, but you might also want to complete your homework and study in small groups. Try using Google Docs to create collaborative class notes with a study buddy, or to review for an exam. Even if it is not required for your class, you might want to consider keeping a public blog or private reflection journal where your write just a short summary of what you learned after every class you attend, and after every reading or video you watch for class. You can share and compare your notes with your classmates (and your notes will also come in handy when it is time to study or work on those term papers!). A personal learning network is more effective if you have a working knowledge of what you would like to learn. Try creating a conceptual map of your course. Think of making a conceptual map as creating a puzzle that represents how all the material in your class fits together. How are items related (hint,topics might not be related in the way they were presented in class, or how they were listed in the syllabus)? Now what puzzle pieces are missing? Go to your network to find the missing piece.
One great thing about a personal learning network is that you don’t have to use it only when you are behind, you can create a PLN to get ahead, to learn more, explore on your own and to make connections outside of the university. Some tools you might use in developing your PLN are Twitter, Blogrolls, YouTube Channels, newspapers and community resources, in addition to your friends, family and people on campus.
To learn more about establishing good study habits, visit the Center for Learning (CFL), Student Life, the office of Student Academic Affairs or Disability Student Services (DSS).