Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taking notes at UT Tyler: Technology vs. Paper


Technology has exponentially increased the ability to learn in the classroom.  Information can be dispersed by teachers easier via the internet, and students can access information faster than ever before.   It has now become common practice, even, for students to take notes during class on some form of mobile technology, mainly iPads and laptop computers. Even here at UT Tyler we have been doing studies on the effects of the use of iPad as assistive learning devices.

Specifically with this post, I hope to lay out some positive and negative aspects of taking notes in class on some form of technology to give you a good idea of what you’ll be in for if you decide that you would rather take notes on your laptop than in your notebook.

·         Weight:
o   Your back will thank you for only carrying around an ipad or Laptop, which will weigh less than 2 pounds, instead of notebooks and textbooks. Rather than packing your bag full of note-taking materials, all you need is your handy dandy ipad or lightweight laptop and you can be on your way.
·         Speed
o   Keyboards are usually much faster than pens when it comes to writing what the professor says.  Whereas it would take me a minute or two to copy down a slide from one of my professor’s Power Points in class while writing, I could churn out the entire slide in about 30 seconds while typing it.  This means that you could have more time to just listen to the professor talk and get any additional information that may not be included in the slide, instead of focusing solely on what was in the slide.  The odds are that your professor will not be just reading the slides to you and will be including extra things about the topic, which means that speed is of huge advantage.
·         Ease of Accessibility
o   Another major advantage to using tech for notes would be the ease with which you can see everything relating to your class with just a couple of clicks and a stable access to the internet.  Additionally, if you're waiting for class one day, but need to be studying for a test in another class, having your laptop or tablet means that you could study even you don’t have the class that same day.
·         Study Easier
o   With a computer or tablet, you can organize your notes in a way that makes sense to you if the professor teaches in a strange order.  You can also color code your notes if that helps you, or even put them into tables to help remember terms and key points.  It is also extremely helpful to be able to copy and paste large sums of information onto other word documents for the creation of flash cards and things of that nature.
·         Cheap textbooks
o   Textbooks are expensive.  However, if you use some form of technology for class readings then you will pay much less for your textbook, as eBooks cost much less to produce and sell.  The textbooks are also much more accessible while on your computer or tablet, so you can read them wherever you have your tablet.
·         Note-editing
o   It’s much easier to just backspace over a typo than it is to mark out an entire word or even a sentence and re-write it.  With technology, all it takes is a quick movement of your cursor, and then a push of the backspace button, and you can immediately fix mistakes in your note taking. 
·         Can be harder to study with
o   Unlike a notebook, your computer or tablet will have easy access to other forms of entertainment like Netflix, or Facebook.  For this reason, it can also be harder to study with technology because of the distractions.  If you get distracted easily and don’t have much discipline, then paper is your best bet to passing your classes.
·         Technology snafus
o   Technology is awesome, but it does have its issues.  The internet won’t always work, sometimes your tablet will not have enough battery, or will encounter software issues.  This is especially problematic when you have a test the next day that you really need to study for.  For that reason, some just prefer to play it safe with pen and paper.
·         Cost barriers
o   This one pretty much speaks for itself.  College kids can’t afford technology most of the time.  A good laptop that won’t die in a year will cost about $500, and a tablet will cost about 300-400 dollars.  Compare this to a package of pens that costs a few dollars, and a 97 cent notebook.  The math speaks for itself.

Personally, I have taken notes with both forms, and they both have their good and bad sides.  However, I have chosen the IPad as my primary medium of note taking because of its light weight, and easy accessibility outside of the classroom.  Not to mention the fact that there are TONS of apps to write and organize notes with.  Keep in mind, though, that not everyone is the same.  If you prefer pen and paper, then by all means stick to it.  Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great post! Easy to read, and you made great points.

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