I like to use analogies and exercises when I’m teaching and the importance of them was brought home in my class this week. I gave the graduate students a form to complete a written evaluation of the course — and had to provide two people with pens to fill it out. It’s not that they were taking notes on their computer the whole term — they don’t take notes at all.

I assume this habit (or lack of one) is a carryover from all the other ways that people receive information these days. You don’t take notes from all your other inputs — reading online, watching media, videoconferencing, etc. — so why take them in class? (Or at least that’s what I tell myself.) But it has made me more conscious to make my lessons tactile, memorable, visual, or participatory in hopes that the students walk away remembering at least something from our time together.

The phenomenon isn’t unique to this course. Gone are the days of spiral notebooks for each class and words of wisdom being copiously transcribed with every word the teacher speaks. If it doesn’t stick when first presented, it’s gone.

Think about your messaging from this context. If people need to remember what you say from total recall, highlight only the key points and present them in such a way that they are easy to remember: a picture, acronym, etc. Anchoring your message to something else that matters to them will keep your message from floating away.

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