Lectures can be tough enough to follow as it is, but moving them to a virtual platform doesn’t make it any easier.

  • Make your presence known by keeping your camera on and your microphone unmuted. It’s important for you to be able to actively engage with the lecture as it happens, so make sure you’re visible (and audible), especially if you use a remote learning platform that allows for back-and-forth discussion.
  • Take notes as you go, but focus on ideas rather than details. Writing down every word the professor says is not only tedious but also nearly impossible, especially when it’s all done online: audio quality varies from professor to professor and student to student, so it may take more effort just to hear what’s being said than before the difficult times like the pandemic.
  • Instead of competing against Zoom and its glitches, try writing down paraphrased notes in outline format as a way of connecting the main points of each lecture with one another: this not only helps keep things organized but also makes them easier to remember later on (they’re no longer just a jumble of words).

Know your professor

Before you can start taking notes, you need to know your professor. In other words, you should be familiar with their teaching style and how they present material. Take the time to do some pre-class research:

Professor Experiment Laboratory  - videoplasty / Pixabay
videoplasty / Pixabay
  • Is there a website or syllabus with information about the class?
  • Has the professor said anything on social media that might apply to what they’ll talk about in class?
  • Does your prof use any personal anecdotes (stories)?
  • Do they include slides, videos, or images? Or is it going to be mostly them talking?

Knowing where your professor pulls their resources from can help you keep up when notes follow along during lectures. Of course, every professor is different. But, knowing what’s coming next in a lecture from one who tends to show a video might mean more than if you have a prof who usually just talks without visuals.

Podcasts are great for passive listening, but lectures are not.

It’s not that lectures are bad. In fact, they’re great! They force you to engage and interact with the material being taught. You don’t just listen passively; you listen actively. Unlike a podcast, which you can enjoy while doing something else, a lecture requires your attention and focus.

You need to be taking notes. You need to be asking questions. You need to be participating and interacting with the professor and your classmates if there is an opportunity for it. In other words, you need to be present!

Indoors Learn Study Computer Girl  - Elf-Moondance / Pixabay
Elf-Moondance / Pixabay

So how do you take notes in a Zoom lecture? Very similar to how you would in an in-person lecture. If there is a PowerPoint presentation or similar visual aid, write down any important terms or concepts from those slides as well as anything else that seems relevant from the class discussion (but make sure all of this correlates back to your original goal for the class).

As long as what you’re writing down relates back directly to your main goal for attending the class (remembering key concepts, preparing for an exam later on), then that’s what matters most!

Get organized

Step 1: Use a notebook or word document

Step 2: Use a note-taking app on phone

Step 3: Take notes on your computer during class

Step 4: Use a pen and paper

Don’t try and write down everything verbatim

  • Get organized
  • Set up Zoom correctly
  • Don’t try to write down everything precisely
  • Use the chat feature
  • Record your lecture if you can

By following above tips, you can make learning from lectures enjoyable and fun. Also engaged learning leads to easier remembering.

Meeting Calendar Appointment  - Elf-Moondance / Pixabay
Elf-Moondance / Pixabay

For recorded lecture – It’s okay to stop watching and rewatch later

A recorded lecture can be watched multiple times, so it is okay to pause and rewatch. This can be helpful for students who need more time to take notes or better understand a concept. Just like when watching a video on YouTube, you can pause, rewind, fast-forward, and watch the video again as many times as needed. You may want to add a reminder in your calendar for when a Zoom lecture is due so you don’t forget.

Imagination Paper Flying Airplane  - mohamed_hassan / Pixabay
mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

The same listening strategies apply to recordings as do live lectures: listen for key words and phrases that make up the main idea of each paragraph or section of the lecture.


Online learning was there for a long time. But recently due to pandemic situation, lockdown and work from home setting, online lectures have become more popular and more of a necessity.

Rather than finding excuses for not to study, it is better to prepare the best for difficult situations and to improvise for better learning. By following the above tips it can help you to learn more from a Zoom lecture.

Read our blog for more study tips and motivation.

Share this post
About Author

Science A Plus