Creative Synthesis

Living up to your full potential.

Want to Take Better Notes? Get the Lead Out

One of the modern challenges for classroom teachers, especially at the college level, is how to deal with student use of laptops and other personal technology in the classroom. A new study suggests that, even when used solely for notes, laptops may not always be the best choice. Read More

The nature of the notes

I think at the end of the day, the problem lies more with what's being taken down than the media through which it is done. People spend many years writing by hand, making the process a lot less complicated when combined with the acts of simultaneously listening, paraphrasing, summarizing and understanding. When typing (a skill that possibly requires more 'attention' from the brain due to a more complex application of a multi-directional motor skill) one tends to skip the steps that involve paraphrasing, summarizing and understanding. This leads to merely dictating mindlessly what is being said and thus less information is being committed effectively for the purpose of expanding knowledge. Perhaps applying the simpler skill of handwriting with digital media (as is already done with modern technology) is the answer to incorporating the advantages of the modern era with the efficiency of the pen-to-paper method.

Good thoughts

Yes, I agree that it would be good to investigate whether using tablets to write (rather than type) notes is as effective as writing on paper. Interestingly, one thing the study looked at was whether telling students who typed the notes *not* to write verbatim notes made any difference, and it didn't. Even when the students were trying to take more thoughtful notes, they still acted as transcribers when they were using a laptop (which goes to your point about the differences in attention required when typing vs. handwriting).

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Lisa Rivero is the author of The Smart Teens' Guide to Living with Intensity and other education and parenting books. more...

Subscribe to Creative Synthesis

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.