One skill that is important in all learning environments is active reading. Here is my verbatim suggestions to students from Week 1 of Understanding Art, a 16 week online course. I include suggestions for some tools that they can deploy to support their adoption of active reading techniques.
"Print these articles and read them actively.
"Active reading helps you understand complex arguments and provides models (and bad examples) that will make you a better writer. Use your understanding of authors in your responses to the Introduction posts. You may cite them casually for now, but you must use some sort of citation. We discuss formal citations next week.
"Active reading includes strategies like using a pencil to note two or three word topic summaries in the margins of reach paragraph, underlining important phrases, and using symbols to note your reactions.
"Invent a system for tracking your opinions of the writing. For example, you can underline a keyword, note a paragraph topic in a couple words in the margins, or use a smiley symbol to note that you agree, :) disagree, :( or are confused :?. For example, you can use the margins to note good (+) or bad (-) evidence.
"Avoid highlighters. They do not help you to track an argument or the organization of a paper clearly, and reviewing the material is difficult. If you like highlighters, try using two techniques at the same time or read once with one method then again with another.
"Another technique for active reading is mind mapping. Check out this video to learn more.
"Beyond a pencil and paper, you can use tools like mind42 and Visio to organize your mind maps. However, hand writing notes usually leads to better learning & retention. Sharing mind maps is a great way to divide & conquer in a study group. For example, make each person responsible for mapping a single paper and leading a discussion board thread on the topic."
Active Reading Suggestions by Susan Burroughs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at docs.google.com.