2.1.2 Note taking
The first important point to make is that note taking is more than a process of summarising everything that you see; it must be an active process of engaging with the material and thinking it through for yourself. In the video, the multidimensional nature of the visual images and the stories they convey means that you will not be able to take in everything on first viewing. The reason we chose to present the material on video was, in order for you to revisit the material and think about it in different ways. Remember that the video simply provides an introduction to some very complex issues, many of which explored in the course.
In the video, there are many kinds of information that you can draw upon to help you to understand the Mexico–US border and the issues around it. You will need to think about how to take notes and how to learn from each kind of information.
First, and most obviously, you will need to decide what the video is saying: its broad content.
Second, you will need to consider the interviews in which people present their personal stories and perspectives on life at the Mexico-US border. These become particularly important in when we are presented with debates around culture, nature, economy and the environment. Interviews with key people such as Martha Ojeda, from a workers’ rights group, give us insight into the impacts of some of the global processes on the lives of people at the border, as they see it.
Third there are the situations and events that we see in the video, it gives us a sense of ‘being there’, and we can learn much about life at the border simply by observing images of the physical environment and by getting a feel for the place. For example, we can see for ourselves exactly what the maquiladoras (‘assembly for export’ factories) are like and what life is like in the colonias (shanty towns) where many of the assembly line workers live.
We suggest that the first time you watch the video, you should not attempt to take notes but simply watch to find out what the video is about. At the end, you might like to jot down some of the points that struck you and any questions that occurred to you. Your immediate reactions to the images seen might also be worth noting – it will be interesting to see if your perspective changes as you work your way through this and other related courses e.g. DD205_2 Claiming connections: a distant world of sweatshops.
These initial points will help to guide your subsequent viewings and perhaps indicate any sections of the course upon which you wish to focus. On your second viewing, you will need to take detailed notes as you view the video. Remember that you should not be trying to write everything down. After all, that would be like copying out a book word for word! Instead make notes that, for you, summarise the key points of the video. You should also note down any evidence that backs up these key points. This will include factual material such as dates – or spotting which companies have factories in the region. The visual imagery may also be part of this factual evidence. In order to keep your notes well organised, you may find it helpful to draw a framework or grid for the video on which to identify the key points, the evidence and also some links to the course themes.