14 November 2023

Quote of the Day

"Nontraditional students appear to be more at home and successful as learners in classrooms where teachers connect them to subjects in new ways. The students we interviewed recognized and appreciated teachers’ efforts to get to know them and to create classroom settings that encouraged academic engagement and expression of ideas. Yet nontraditional students describe most of their classes as highly structured, teacher-controlled, and regimented."

“Nontraditional students appear to be more at home and successful as learners in classrooms where teachers connect them to subjects in new ways. The students we interviewed recognized and appreciated teachers’ efforts to get to know them and to create classroom settings that encouraged academic engagement and expression of ideas. Yet nontraditional students describe most of their classes as highly structured, teacher-controlled, and regimented.”

Jal Mehta, A Pernicious Myth: Basics Before Deeper Learning

Musical Interlude

Daft Punk is releasing a “drumless” version of their 2013 “Random Access Memories,” and I am absolutely here for it. Here’s the drumless version of “Motherboard”

Long Read of the Day

No one fully understood how smartphones or social media would transform every aspect of our life in the span of fifteen years. AI is a dynamic field, and its impact on education is beyond what any of us could probably comprehend today. The only way we can keep up is by building strong guardrails and regularly assessing and evaluating the extent to which AI tools are enhancing educational outcomes. We must also constantly anticipate and respond to unintended consequences as they emerge. This should include information from academic assessments, surveys, and feedback from teachers and students. The data collected should be used to refine AI implementation strategies and inform policy decisions.

Let’s get this right.

Khaled Ismail

Photo of the Day

library books

At my daughter’s academic team match last night, I thought I’d grab a quick pic of one of the library shelves. Apparently, there are some Brandon Sanderson fans at this school.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk about my obsession with Notion as my primary productivity tool. I do my best to put everything in my Notion workspace in some form.

Today, Notion released a beta of the “Q&A” feature that allows you to “talk” with the information in your workspace.

I’m chasing the ultimate content curation strategy with my own Zettelkasten implementation, and this may just be the final piece to the puzzle form. Imagine having quick access to the thousands of articles, highlights, and more you have stored in your Notion workspace. All just by asking a simple question.

Pretty frickin’ cool.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

How to Use Notion to Create a Zettelkasten System for Note-Taking

a student taking notes in a dark room

If you’re looking for a note-taking method that combines the flexibility of digital notes with the structure of a physical card-based system, the Zettelkasten method might be just what you need. In this post, we’ll explore using Notion to create a Zettelkasten system that matches your unique needs and preferences.

What is Zettelkasten?

The word Zettelkasten is German for “note box.” The Zettelkasten method is a note-taking system that was developed by the 20th-century German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. It involves recording individual ideas on small index cards (or Zettels) and organizing them in a way that allows you to easily connect and refer to related ideas.

The purpose of a Zettelkasten system is to create an interconnected web of ideas that reflects how you think. Rather than simply collecting notes, a Zettelkasten system emphasizes connecting, indexing, and recalling information. By doing so, it allows you to generate new insights and ideas that you might not have otherwise discovered.

How to Create a Zettelkasten System in Notion

Notion is a powerful note-taking app that works well for creating and organizing a Zettelkasten system. Here’s how to create your own Zettelkasten in Notion:

Step 1: Create a Database

Start by creating a new database in Notion. You can do this by clicking on the “Add a Page” button in the sidebar and selecting “Database” from the options.

Step 2: Set Up Your Database

Once you’ve created your database, you’ll need to set it up to match the structure of your Zettelkasten system. Here’s an overview of the most important fields you’ll want to include:

  • Title: This is the name of your note.
  • Note: This is the body of your note, where you’ll record your ideas and thoughts.
  • Tags: Use tags to help you organize and sort your notes. You can use multiple tags per note, but be careful not to overdo it.
  • Next Entry Point: This field allows you to connect related notes together. If a note is a continuation of another note, you can use this field to indicate that connection.
  • Last Entry Point: This field tells you which note the current note is connected to. It’s the opposite of the “Next Entry Point” field.
  • Type: This field indicates whether a note is a main idea, a continuation note, or a subordinate note.

Step 3: Use Unique IDs

To avoid confusion and ensure that you can easily find and connect related notes, it’s a good idea to use unique IDs for each note. These IDs can be simple time stamps or more complicated alphanumeric codes.

Step 4: Use Tags Wisely

Tags are a key part of organizing your Zettelkasten system, but it’s important to use them wisely. In general, you should aim to use just one or two tags per note. To determine which tags to use, ask yourself what the note is about and what other topics it relates to.

Step 5: Use Templates

Notion templates can save you a lot of time and effort when creating your Zettelkasten system. For example, you can create a template for inserting a new note, a template for adding a keyword, or a template for adding a link to a book or article.

Step 6: Use Inline Links

Inline links are a powerful feature in Notion that allows you to quickly link to other notes, books, or articles. To create an inline link, use the double square bracket syntax (i.e., [[note title]]). Notion will automatically create a link to the note with that title.

Step 7: Use Comments

Comments are another useful feature in Notion that can help you keep your notes organized and easily navigate. You can use comments to add definitions, highlight important points, or add reminders to yourself.

Step 8: Use Formulas

Notion formulas can help you automate many aspects of your Zettelkasten system. For example, you can use formulas to calculate the century of a year (e.g., 1950 is in the 20th century), sort notes by tag or keyword, or automatically populate fields based on other fields.

Step 9: Use Views

Notion views allow you to see your notes differently, depending on your needs. For example, you can create a view that shows all notes sorted by date, a view that shows only notes with a certain tag, or a view that shows notes in a certain category.

Conclusion

The Zettelkasten method is a powerful note-taking system that can help you generate new ideas, insights, and connections. By using Notion to create your Zettelkasten system, you can take advantage of the app’s powerful features and customization options to create a note-taking system that matches your unique needs and preferences.

Using Notion as a Doctoral Dashboard

In all of my previous degree programs, my biggest struggle was knowing what was due when and what I needed to accomplish next.

I have been an online student through two degree programs. One of those programs, at the University of Kentucky, did a tremendous job of connecting the students through synchronous meetings. The other, at a place I won’t name, did not.

Both degree programs required independent learning, fully expecting that all students could take it upon themselves to have enough organizational prowess to complete tasks promptly.

I can tell you that I was awful at that. Too often, I raced through work at the last minute because I forgot about it, mostly because it was buried in a module in the learning management system that I’d missed.

Last week, I began my doctoral work. I was determined not to repeat past mistakes and to be more organized.

It’s not that I’m not an organized person. I usually am. I like checklists. I like writing things down on note cards and tearing up the note cards when I’ve completed the work.

But I couldn’t wrap my head around why I struggled so much with my studies. Then, I had my lightbulb moment.

The problem wasn’t that I was not organized; the problem was I was using someone else’s organizational process and trying to figure out why they did what they did and how I could work through it.

Now, I’m working my way through this semester and organizing my work in a way that makes sense to me.

Enter Notion. I ran across The Redhead Academic and how she uses Notion for her own doctoral studies. She put together this fantastic tutorial and even has a template you can grab to use for yourself.

I’m new to using Notion, so the template helped me familiarize myself with the service. But now I’m burning it up.

I’ve quickly created my own dashboard for my studies and shared it with my entire cohort. So far, that dashboard allows us to keep our sanity.

I’ll have more updates for Notion soon, along with a few tutorials you might find handy.