One of the unique qualities of art is that it demands the engagement of multiple senses from the artist to be created – take a musician for instance, his kinesthetic (touch) sense is actively focused on playing the notes while his auditory (sound) sense is focused on listening to what is being played, he/she might actively imagine the notes being played, thus stimulating the visual modality. The same goes for painters. Along with their kinesthetic sense, their visual modality is constantly looking for details like colors, patterns, textures, etc. Peel off a few more layers. You will find that all the art forms have some basis in a conceptual representation. Even the abstract and surreal forms. But what does that have to do with studying? Well, let us try to connect the dots by looking at a few numbers first. 

In a 2009 study conducted by psychologist Jackie Andrade, he asked a group of participants to listen to a monotonous rambling of a voicemail while noting down some important information. Half of them were asked to just listen and write it down while the other half were encouraged to shade a few shapes, simultaneously while writing down the important points. It was found out later that the participants from the latter group could recall 29% more information than those from the former group. The numbers wouldn’t end here though. Through a study, Fernandes et al.(2016) found that the recall percentage went up more than twice as much when a list of words were drawn rather than just written down. Those who wrote down recalled 20% while those who drew recalled 45% of the list. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, even when the words are mind-numbingly monotonous, dull and boring. 

The explanation for what seems like magic hides in plain sight. Though it is in more of a trifold pattern – 

  1. Attention – Drawing or scribbling requires constant motor activity. As long as it does not cross the threshold and become stressful in itself, scribbling keeps the student away from distractions like daydreaming and keeps their arousal at a healthy, optimum level while also simulating their kinesthetic sense.
  2. Elaboration – Scribbling down while studying encourages the learner to semantically process the information i.e, understand it conceptually. This promotes conceptual learning and eliminates rote learning. 
  3. Visual Representation – When all is said and done, it is the visual representation of something that works like a charm in reducing the cognitive load of heavy verbal processing. That is one of the reasons the modern world prefers infographics over the written word. 

But I’m bad at drawing!

You don’t have to be a Picasso to draw something in a way that makes conceptual sense to you. Here are a few simple ways you can utilise your limited drawing potential to maximize its benefits

  1. Mind Maps – A mind-map is as simple as drawing boxes and writing things down. But they are excellent tools for conceptual learning. They hold all the information together, branch out the divisions and look organised. A well-drawn mind map reduces the load of writing pages and pages of information that wear you down but offer little conceptual understanding.
  2. Anchor Charts – Anchor charts are a fun way to hold all the important points together in a neat, and artsy way. Like mind-maps, all it requires of a student is to note down the important points and then organize them in a neat, hierarchical manner. 
  3. Process Charts –  Explaining the label itself, process charts are made by structuring out the processes in an organized way making use of different shapes. They can be a pretty neat way for science activities, processes, math derivations, etc., 
  4. Timelines – These come in handy when you have to accommodate your mind for so many historic events along with their date of occurrence. It can easily turn a very tedious process into an appealing visual aid. 
  5. Posters – Alright, these can be a little tricky and time consuming, but making a poster can be a very engaging work that subliminally strengthens one’s knowledge of a particular topic while also serving the function of a visual aid to rely on during quick revisions.

Now, owing to the omnipotent nature of technology, it is impossible to even imagine a tech-less world. Educators and students must equip themselves with tools to best exploit the tools of technology to make the ed-space much more pleasurable and in turn aim for better learning experiences for ourselves.

Students can use various tools available to make their note taking or summarizing processes easier. Students may struggle with writing and organizing their notes while listening. Or they may have trouble keeping up with a teacher because of slow processing speed . These note-taking apps can help.

  1. AudioNote – With AudioNote, students can record lectures and type or draw notes at the same time. The app automatically syncs the recorded audio to a student’s notes, creating a lecture with matching notes. Students can jump around in the audio by clicking the notes they’ve taken. This lets them review the lecture through sound and notes.
  2. Evernote – Evernote lets students take notes across multiple devices. They can create and organize notebooks for different subjects, using lists, text, images, sounds and other media. Evernote’s interface is simple, which may be helpful for kids who are easily distracted. Students can also customize the app’s appearance through highlighting, fonts and color-coding, and share notes they’ve created.
  3. MindMeister – MindMeister is another mind-mapping app. Students can customize the color and look of their maps. MindMeister has some great options for letting different users work together on the same mind map. The app also allows students to assign dates and priorities to different ideas and notes. Mindomo is another free mind-mapping tool to consider.
  4. Microsoft OneNote – OneNote is a well-known and popular app that lets students capture, organize and share notes. Kids can organize their notes in folders, as well as sort and search quickly. The app works across multiple devices, and allows the sharing of notes with others. Microsoft also offers Learning Tools for OneNote, a free add-on with several assistive technology tools, like text-to-speech.
  5. MarginNote – This app lets students import digital text and then take notes in the margins of that text. After they make their notes, students can use the app’s tools to create notes for a summary, mind maps and flashcards. MarginNote may be especially helpful for high-schoolers and college students who are tackling longer, more complex texts like books and articles.
  6. Squid – With this app, students can handwrite notes on a tablet or mobile phone with their finger, digital pen or stylus. Students who like to handwrite notes but want to move away from pen and paper may enjoy Squid. It lets students choose various kinds of digital paper, including ruled and graph. They can save notes, organize them into folders and share them. With a subscription, students also can import PDFs and annotate them, use virtual highlighters and add shapes to their notes.
  7. Otter Voice Notes – Otter Voice Notes lets kids record lectures and meetings, while creating digital transcripts of the recordings. As people talk, the app displays their words on screen, so kids can see what the speaker is saying in addition to listening. Once recordings are created, kids can listen to them and follow along with the transcript at the same time. The app highlights each word as it’s read aloud. The recordings and transcripts are also searchable, and kids can share them with others. This app can be a big help for kids who struggle to take notes and keep up in class.

In conclusion, drawing is not to be misunderstood as only a visual tool. Because its potential is not just limited to serving as a visual aid. It can be interesting learning as well as a teaching aid that stimulates and promotes the conceptual understanding of a topic. Most of the above-mentioned apps and tools are free to use, so they make a great addition to the learning system for students. Students and teachers can identify the best free learning app for themselves and use them effectively. The above-mentioned will act as the best free learning app for class 9 to 12. With technology being extensively used to make our processes seamless, trying out these note-taking tools looks helpful.

Leave a Reply