Angle down on a small, light brown wooden card index. The box has several manilla 1/5 cut 3x5" card dividers inside along with some white index cards. Outside of the box on the table in front of it are a typewritten index card and a black metal Rotring 800 0.5mm mechanical pencil. Off to one side is a white ceramic bowl full of lemons.

Zettelkasten Pedagogy Meeup? A Call for Interested Parties and Examples

I’ve been watching a growing number of teachers, professors, and researchers who have been transferring their personal note taking, zettelkasten, or personal knowledge management practices into the classroom for students from 6th or 7th grade up into college/university level. As it’s been a while since this practice was more commonplace (excuse the pun), perhaps it could be useful (and fun) to do a meetup or mini-unconference on the topic to discuss some ideas, practices, and pedagogy?


Depending on everyone’s general availability, we could do something on a quiet day over the summer break? I’m thinking something in the 2-4 hour range depending on the level of interest and what folks think would be most productive. At the lower end we could do a few hours as a simple meetup/discussion if there are 10 or fewer, though if there is more interest, then I’m thinking that a BarCamp style (unconference) may be easier with 3-4 sessions of about 45 minutes each  and to which people submit various ideas at the start of “camp” and folks can decide what ideas they’re interested in supporting or exploring. (If you’ve never attended an unconference or BarCamp style event, this IndieWeb page and related pages will give you a bit of an idea of what to expect, though we’ll do a much more scaled down version. I’m also a fan of their Code of Conduct, and propose to adopt it for participants.)

Given the potential time zone differentials across Europe and the Americas across which most practitioners I know live, I’ve found that Saturday morning starts at 8:30 AM Pacific have been historically most convenient, but I’m not opposed to an weekday timeslot if that’s more preferrable with a majority of schedules.

If there’s enough interest I’m happy to help facilitate something 2-3 times a year in smaller doses. We can start small and informal and expand as necessary.


If this is something in which you’d be interested in doing, please drop a comment on my website or send me an email (you’ll find it on my homepage). Let me know the following:

  • Range of referred dates/times along with any major vacation plans we might work around
  • Interest in leading a BarCamp session? Topics? Do you have a presentation/experience you’d like to present (even if it’s totally informal)? 
  • Your area/level of teaching (elementary, middle school, high school, undergraduate, graduate, other) and institution — schedule-wise, I’d like to give the most preference to active educators, though I’m sure we’ll attract participants interested in the broader idea of ZK/PKM.
  • Would you like to help volunteer time/resources to mounting this as an online only event?
  • Other ideas? Needs?

My goal for a first session is to be highly creative and get ideas/discussions of experiences/improvements flowing with the minimal amount of organization and work on the part of all participants. I would hope this would be more fun for the prospective group than work.


I’ve been collecting examples of teachers/professors who used their zettelkasten for teaching, some of which include Mario Bunge, Frederic L. Paxson, Gotthard Deutsch, Roland Barthes, and Joachim Jungius. In more recent contexts, I’ve seen Dan Allosso (aka u/danallosso), Mark Robertson (aka @calhistorian u/calhistorian), Nick Santalucia, and Sean Graham using zettelkasten or linked notes using Obsidian, Roam, etc. for either directly teaching, teaching students how to start such a practice, or using it for OER related practices. I’ve also heard from a few who are planning on offering coursework with zettelkasten underpinned pedagogy in the near future.

Do you know of others who are practicing and implementing these methods? Those who plan to in the coming year? Please forward this along and we’ll see what we can arrange based on the level of interest.

All thoughts and feedback appreciated…

Published by

Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

19 thoughts on “Zettelkasten Pedagogy Meeup? A Call for Interested Parties and Examples”

  1. I will send a mail, but is it okay to bring my experience from a student perspective (using a ZK and commonplace book)?

    I believe Forest Perry (who has a youtube channel on zettelkasten) teaches a class on zettelkasten to his students, I believe.

  2. I assume you’re suggesting a Zoom event? If so, I’d be interested. I’m a HS ELA teacher with a previous life as a college professor. Most timeframes/dates would work for me.

  3. @electricarchaeo @saurette I’d be happy to have you both join us. I’m particularly curious to hear your thoughts on how it went beyond some of the short snippets I’ve caught along the way over the past few months. There are also a few who are making plans for next fall who I think could benefit from the direct experiences of yourself and several others.

  4. I’m late to the party, but I’d be interested if this is still in the works. I’ve been working on something I’m tentatively calling “baby zettlekasten” as a more accessible, less stringent, first experience for undergrads who are too deep in the demands of exams, ect, to jump in with both feet, and I’d be interested in talking it through with other educators.

  5. I would be happy to participate. I used my paper-based ZK to prepare two undergraduate courses in mathematics last academic year. I would love to meet people interested in similar things.

  6. I’d be interested in joining. If it’s during vacation, most dates work, so long as the time is reasonable in the Netherlands, I can decide when the actual data is planned. I do not teach, but I coach a few people on learning and am preparing to provide an efficient learning course later this year. I also don’t use my ZK for learning, as I firmly believe and argue it’s not optimized for that–however, I do use my ZK for research and the development of my optimized education theory. Other ideas: make sure to invite u/sscheper as a speaker.

  7. Nate says:

    If this hasn’t happened yet I would love to attend!

    I used “Smart Notes” as a course text for a Comp II class last semester. For about a third of the class it was fantastic, and for the remainder it was a spectacular failure.

    I also use something ZK-esque to do my course design/course planning.

    Would love to chat with other folks that are into this stuff, be it a one-off or something reoccurring.

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