Taking lecture notes and being able to review those note later when you are studying provides variety that is needed to learn material. Just writing the notes down more actively engages the brain, because you are listening and writing. But you need to arrange with at least two fellow classmates that you will all take notes and share notes with each other if absent. In addition to course materials, other administrative matters are discussed in class (such as the announcement of exam date change).
If you are taking a distance education course, you need to regularly enter the learning management system (such as Blackboard Vista) and review the announcements, discussion list postings and read (and answer if appropriate) email. Most distance education professors assume that anything he has communicated via these tools will have been read by the student within 3 days. In short this means you are responsible for having read the items and completing any action requested.