“TAKE DETAILED NOTES!!!
These classes are INTENSE...”
Later on in the thread there is a comment that it would be essential to take a laptop but as Jason mentions:
“I found that in most classes, it's WAY too packed to even consider bringing out a laptop.“
My first day there, I was like you - WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!!! By the second day, I realized that I was too busy writing to pay attention to what was being said and done on the screen, so I paid close attention, took the handouts with me, and made notes after the class on them. No need for transcribing the class, they record some of them, and the handouts are really sufficient.
I agree with these points but my approach to this information tidal wave was to adopt Mind map techniques. I use software for creating them on the PC but didn’t take a laptop to AU as couldn’t be bothered carrying it 11,000 km to AU (Vegas 2004), then another 11,000km around the MGM Grand while at AU. It feels like you walk that far in the 4 days….
I’ve adopted the map format for nearly all hand written meeting/conference notes. You can capture a lot with minimal writing as the structure & relationships can convey much of the information. It works really well for computer related content like AU as many topics may only require key words and their relationship. I find the advantages over linear list format notes are:
- You tend to use far fewer words
- It’s very easy to show relationships. Just add a line or arrow
- It’s easy to revisit topics, perhaps add detail, as you are not restricted by the layout. Just link them with a line no matter where the additional notes are located. Although most presentations have structure they are not linear as often refer back to previous topics. This is common with computer presentations where concept/theory/features are discussed then later shown in a demonstration. When you are not documenting in a linear method this is far easier to cope with.
- You can still easily include a sketch, table or other forms of notes if appropriate.
- It’s rapid so doesn’t divert your attention from the speaker.
My note maps break most of the rules of Mind Mapping, even incorporate other forms like concept mapping, but it doesn’t matter. There is no time or need to think about rules and layout; just do what works for you!
As an example the scrawl below is the notes, 4 note pages from the AU handout book, from just one session with Ted Boardman on Viz/Max Materials. Ted is a brilliant teacher conveying a huge amount of information in the session but he’s also a great speaker so you don’t want to miss that aspect while frantically writing. He, like many AU tutors, provides good handouts but there is something about taking your own notes to make the sessions more memorable & relevant.
I’d like to blame the terrible writing on “packed conditions” but my print is that bad all the time! The layout reflects the way the maps grew during the session. Sometimes I’d revisit the topic and add extra notes just by linking with a line or capture comments in a thought bubble. I don’t know how you’d do this as rapidly or easily, in a non-linear manner, with conventional list format notes.
To give an idea this single topic about Specular Highlights (below) is shown in raw note form and as later transcribed to a MindManager map. The result conveys a lot of information, much of it from the relationship and structure, with minimal writing.
The map below shows Levels 1 & 2 of the complete notes from the session. The arrow points to the “Specular Highlights” topic seen fully expanded above. MindManager is great for this sort of overview while also holding the full detail should you need to drill down into a topic. The map has 245 topics and 912 words. The session was about 90 minutes so I wrote 2 – 3 topics/minute, many of them only one or two words, yet feel I captured all I needed without missing the real reason for being there – to see a Max/Viz legend at work.
So, do you need to take a Laptop to AU to just for notes?
I’d say no paper is fine but a Tablet PC/Origami + MindManager, with ample long-life batteries, would be nice as offers the same pen interface and eliminates the need to transcribe it all later
UPDATE 13–10–2006: Ted has a class similar to “Materials & Beyond” at Autodesk University 2006 – Look for DV25-1 ~ All Dressed Up! ~ Design Visualization ~ Ted Boardman.