Group Notes: A Failed Experiment

The end-of-semester is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in the most recent semester. One initiative that fell completely flat was an attempt to have students take notes as a group.

A little before the start of the semester, I heard about a tweet series by Stephanie McKellop describing how the students in her class took notes in a collaborative Google Doc. There are several advantages to this method of note taking compared to the usual everyone-for-themselves. A group can catch all of the details in lecture. Students can ask questions amongst themselves. There is also a heightened sense of the classroom as a community.

I was extremely inspired to make group notes a thing. I made Google Docs for each of my sections and told my students about them in the first week of class. Then… nothing. I ended the semester with three blank documents. Since none of the three sections participated, I believe that there is something wrong with my implementation of the class notes. Maybe it has to be organically started by the students. Class notes is going to take a hiatus as I think of ways to improve it so students will use it.

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