This summer my daughter has enjoyed using a smart pen for her college coursework. During class, she takes notes while the pen records the instructional dialogue. Later, she can play back the conversation by simply tapping on her notes. She finds it to be a great tool and I believe she is learning more when she takes notes.

Like my daughter, many learners find that taking notes enhances their ability to comprehend new information. In fact, research shows that  when we take notes and review them at a later date, we are better able to recall, synthesize and apply what we learn (Boye, 2012; DeZure, Kaplan, & Deerman, 2001).

Wouldn’t it be great to allow these learners to take notes during a DecisionSim simulation? Well, you can. Using popular note-taking applications such as Evernote or OneNote, or even Facebook, as a companion app, learners can take notes (including copying text and images) while working through DecisionSim simulations.

However, not all DecisionSim simulations are appropriate for note-taking. For example, many DecisionSim simulations guide learners towards discovering their own insights by showing them the consequences of their decisions. In this approach, learners become emotionally engaged when they see the drama of their clinical story unfold. In such situations, note-taking is probably not needed and may impede learning by preventing the suspension of disbelief. Additionally, some simulations are designed as timed assessments; while others use time as a means to convey the urgency of decision-making. This is especially true in Emergency Medicine simulations. In these two approaches, note-taking would slow learners down.

When appropriate, providing a tool to support learners’ note-taking during your DecisionSim simulation may help support learning in several ways:

  • Notes can store information for later viewing, as learners can send themselves reminders to review the notes at a later date.
  • Learners can easily share their notes with colleagues via social media, harnessing the social aspect of information sharing which is a key component of learning.
  • The activity of note-taking itself helps learners process the information.
You can also use note-taking to improve your simulation. For example, you could ask reviewers or pilot testers to share their notes while evaluating your simulation. Once released to the learning community, you can gather additional insights by encouraging participants to share their notes with you.

If you believe note-taking is appropriate for your simulation, review the DecisionSim simulation entitled: Using Evernote. It has simple instructions on using Evernote with DecisionSim. If you’re interested in including other note-taking applications, let us know and we’ll help you incorporate the correct information.

To learn more about note-taking as a learning strategy, see:

Note-Taking in the 21st Century

Research on Student Note-Taking