In 1956. A Harvard professor named George Miller published a paper that put forth the idea that a human’s short-term memory could only store five to nine pieces of information at a time.
Scientists today argue that this number should be four to six, but the idea remains: once memories enter the cognitive system it creates a log jam of sorts until something is released or forgotten.
The solution to this problem, according to Miller, was what he called “chunking,” or presenting information in smaller bunches of like information, making it easier to absorb.
Miller also believed that information could be “chunked” together with information that was already stored for even easier processing.
The idea of chunking can be applied to nearly every phase of the learning process, from listening to the lecture to taking notes.
A Bit at a Time
How to take effective notes is a subject in itself, the topic of numerous lectures, books and articles, but all comes down to one thing: make notes concise and easy to understand. This will not only make the information gleaned from them easier to remember, but more meaningful too.
An excellent example of this is the work Microsoft and others has done to make computing more personal and portable. Eliminating the need for nearly everything associated with gathering information.
An excellent example of this is note-taking and the proliferation of note-taking apps available.
Playing on Advantages
Today’s note-taking apps have numerous advantages. First, they can be taken anywhere on practically any device, from a laptop to an Android, but in terms of strict usefulness, there’s nothing like them.
Several of today’s note-taking apps allow users to be wildly imaginative in terms of where information is stored and how it is stored. In most cases, this is done with the idea of notebooks, which can be categorized and maintained in practically any manner a user deems most useful.
Chunking in a Notebook
If you remember taking notes in school, you probably remember how easy it was to remember the meaning of the information you recorded. This was because every word, doodle, and graph served the purpose of reminding you of what was happening in class at that moment. Today’s note-taking apps allow the same advantages.
In terms of chunking, today’s note-taking apps allow users to shape and record information in practically any form they wish, which makes retaining information fast and easy. Better yet, after a note-taking session is over, if the information is better understood in a different format, a good note-taking app allows you to make changes to your heart’s desire.
Not a Panacea
Chunking and even note-taking apps aren’t a panacea for all the recall problems of the world, but if there is anything that will help students and others who must retain information, it’s the combination of computing power and the wide-open possibilities of note-taking apps to design information presentation to their recall abilities to help.
If there is anything that has guided the development of learning techniques, it’s technology. It might have had its earliest start with the marks on the wall of a cave, but it continued with modern computing. There can be little doubt the usefulness of computers has continued with note-taking apps, but it’s also a sure thing that these will grow in use as well.