This article is part of a collaboration between Zabetne la Zabtak and PersEd, a start-up for personal education and a global education network created in 2016 by the young Lebanese writer and entrepreneur Alexandra Kodjabachi. It was originally published on PersEd’s blog in December 2017.

We do not study to acquire a set of facts and knowledge to spew on a paper, in an exam, although that’s what we so often do. The real reason behind learning is for us to create new knowledge.

However, this act of creating doesn’t emerge from nothingness. Innovation is an original association of thoughts and requires an exercise of the mind to develop links between ideas. But to see patterns, one has first to extract the ideas. Here are two strategies to deepen learning.


Strategy 1: the Cornell notes strategy

Invented by Walter Pauk, education professor at Cornell University, this note taking strategy serves beyond the limits of the campus.

Note Taking

Step 1  Divide the paper into three sections: a long upper left corner covering the third of the paper, a wide and long right upper right corner covering the other two thirds, and a frame at the bottom covering the stretch of the page.

1. Key points: General ideas and concepts

2. Notes: Abbreviated insights pertaining to key ideas

3. Summary: A clarified version of the main ideas

Step 2 Write down the main ideas pertaining to the document / course / book / movie… in section (2) dedicated for the notes. Use symbols, abbreviations, shortcuts…

Step 3 Parallel to the insights in section (2), write down the key words, main concepts and core questions answered in the notes, to

Step 4 Draft a summary for a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of the topic in section (3).

Read also: 10 useful tips on writing a good Lebanese CV

Strategy 2: the book insights by Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is a blogger, author and virtual coach in matters of personal development, productivity and leadership. InSIGHTS is a strategy to retain information from non-fiction books. It stands for the following:

  1. Information: this section introduces the book title, the author, the publishing house, the publishing date, the number of pages and a personal rating.
  2. Summary: a few lines serving of an overall description of the book, focus on the main idea and arguments
  3. Insights: main key points that capture the attention, rephrased in personal words with a reference to the original thought in the book
  4. Glitches: main disagreements with the author
  5. Holes: missing parts that could’ve added value to the book
  6. Takeaways: two or three takeaways to benefit from
  7. Snippet: quotes from the book

Do you have a strategy of your own that has positively influenced your learning experience? Share it with us!