Lecture Recordings


I don’t know about you but I’ve always been confused about how to go about note taking in class. I’ve seen several of my classmates and friends do it and I’ve seen several of them just listen, or at least act as if they are listening, haha. Over the last months, I’ve tried every method in all my classes and so far audio recordings work best.

I think the most important thing to know (and I wish I knew this first and second year) is that audio recordings are a true blessing. In some classes professors video record lectures themselves and upload them but most don’t. I would suggest raising your hand and asking the professor if it’s okay to record the entire lecture. You could ask the professor after class but the reason I would recommend asking the professor in front of the entire class is that they should know that their questions and discussions will be recorded as well and also I’m sure many of them have the exact same question! Most professors are okay with this. The only thing some caution you about is not to circulate the material to people outside the course and as long as you stick by that, recording the lecture should be no problem at all! Let me tell you why this works:

  1. You don’t have to worry about scribbling every note the professor is saying  in your book. Instead you can channel your energy to the present moment and take in the information, make connections and formulate questions instead. You have the recording and so you have all the time in the world to make notes after class! Right now, focus in on what is right in front of you.
  2. Students ask very useful questions and having that as part of your recording will actually help you to remember the material and use it in different contexts.
  3. You can have the recording play when you’re folding laundry, or waiting in line at a doctor’s appointment. Suddenly you have so many different environments to learn you work in!
  4. Studying at a cafe just became better. I get sick of libraries and cafes are a great alternative. Sometimes though, it can get a little noisy. It gets hard to focus on your notes when the table beside you is having an argument you can’t help but overhear. But now that you have your lecture recorded, you can just listen to it on your headphones and take notes without being disturbed.
  5. You can also play the recording while sleeping! Yes, research shows that your mind can pick upon information even when you’re asleep. This works especially well for languages — my French has improved after listening to recordings in my sleep in just two weeks. It’s pretty amazing.
  6. You don’t have to feel too guilty if you suddenly zone out for a few minutes during lecture — now you can get back to the recording and fill in the blanks! This is especially true for three hour lectures, when it’s hard to be completely attentive all the way through unless you’ve had caffeine shot before.

That being said, it’s important to remember that some classes (especially smaller ones) might not be okay with lecture recordings, so make sure you ask your professor before you take the recording. Moreover, some classes (like Math) need you to take detailed notes, and recordings in that case might not make much sense. It’s important to keep in mind that recording the lecture is not an excuse for you to slack off in class. This is one of the biggest mistakes students make. Like I mentioned, zoning out for a few minutes is natural but if you extend that, you’re missing out on important audio visual information that is helping your mind encode the information. Plus, the point of the recording is so you don’t have to worry too much about missing out in information in your notes and so you can focus on present classroom discussion instead. So before you take the recording, remember that while it is a great study tool and resource that many of us are privileged to be able to use, it cannot be the only thing you depend on. Audio recordings are meant to complement your study process along with your classroom discussion, notes and group study sessions!

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