Sunday, September 2, 2012

On taking notes (By Nima Zahadat)

Throughout my undergraduate years, my classmates often asked me how I could do so well on my exams. I studied mathematics and finished my degree in 2.5 years paying for it entirely myself without the benefit of loans or parents. Yes, I had to work as well as go to school and still managed to finish quicker than most people in getting my undergraduate degree.

I would tell them I didn't take notes! This usually had the effect of "if you don't want to say it, then don't!" No one believed that was my "secret" (shall we say) to why I did well.

Back in high school, I took notes religiously. I would not only take them, I would rewrite them when I got home. I struggled to maintain a high B average and it was tiring. In my senior year in high school, I discussed my frustration with my calculus teacher. I told him I take such great notes and rewrite them and study them but I still struggle to get an A and at best do a B+. His response was "Why don't you stop taking notes and instead read the book?" This struck me as very odd. I had always heard teachers say to take notes! Some insisted on it and here was someone telling me do not take notes. But I liked him and respected him greatly; he had attended MIT and his children were all MIT and Harvard grads! So I thought I try it for two weeks.

The next day I came to class fully intent on not taking notes. That went out the window as soon as he put what I considered "important stuff" on the board. This was not going to be easy. I started not to bring paper or pencil to class just so that I would not take notes. It was a harsh transition. I also began reading my book carefully. First night, the section took a while but by the end of the two weeks, I was reading well.

I found the whole idea refreshing not to mention a lot easier than using a pencil to rewrite notes (no PCs for everyone back then). But the important result were the test scores! By the time I graduated, I had a 98% average in the class, higher than anyone in the school. I received 30 college credits before I set foot inside a college or university. I finished my degree in 2.5 years attending part-time at times due to lack of money.

It puzzled me for years why this system worked so well. Perhaps it is because when I was taking notes, I couldn't listen and pay attention (though I thought I was). So I would not know what the teacher was saying, what he was writing down, or for that matter what I was writing down. That meant for a lot of missing! Add to that the precious time wasted rewriting gibberish and well, it is strange I even got Bs!

I always tell this story to every class. I encourage you to read your books carefully and consider not taking notes. Read your books and work your memory instead. Your mind needs exercise also. Reading and some memorization are excellent exercises. Let's face it, what if your notes were lost? What if the dog really did eat those notes or the flash drive containing them? What then? But the dog can't eat your thoughts...though I am sure some people would say otherwise.

Wishing you success during your classes.

Professor Nima Zahadat

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ITD 256 Blog

This is from your professor.  You are to post an introduction in this blog and you may also use this blog to post opinions, related topics to the course, and creative ideas and concepts even if they are not related to information systems.

For your introduction, be sure to provide the following:
  • Your full name
  • Your birthday
  • Your desired major
  • Your future goals
  • The type of work you do
  • The type of work you dream of doing
  • Your picture (optional)
Welcome to class.  Get great designs!

Professor Nima Zahadat