Now with all the 2014 seniors settling into their college sweatshirts, trying not to sweat the future, it is time for the glitz and glamour of graduation presents. New laptops or tablets, even a new phone as well.
We all know what the technology will be used for, Netflix binging, video games, and Facebook (mainly), but now more than ever technology has become and essential part of learning. People download textbooks, upload and email homework to teachers, even work on group presentations through the wonderful world of Google Drive. A basic laptop has become the most important back to school item on anyone’s list.
It has even made note taking easier. Instead of carting around a backpack full of notebooks and textbooks, I can bring my laptop. I have everything I could need in one small package. No need for loose paper or pens, I can do everything digitally. My bag has gone from ~20 pounds to around 7 pounds. Because I can type fast, I can also basically transcribe lectures as well, making sure I do not miss a word.
Unfortunately not all technology in the classroom is a good thing.
A couple of days ago, this Atlantic article came across my attention.
The article highlights a new study from the Psych department of Princeton. It found that people remember a lecture when they take notes by hand rather than on the computer.
This turn out to be because laptop note takers tend to transcribe what the teacher is saying. Because typing has become, in many ways, faster than actual hand writing to many students, people tend to copy the teacher word for word in hopes of not forgetting a thing. But this method lacks an important step in handwritten notes: being judicious, and having an inner conversation while you are taking notes.
Because most people do not have the ability to accurately and speedily transcribe a live event without a recording, note taking creates an inner dialog. You have to process what is being taught as well as write it down. The selectivity of your notes leads to long-term comprehension.
Long-term comprehension you don’t get with a laptop.
Even laptop note taking students who were encouraged to write in their own words and not verbatim did not remember as much as a pen and paper note taker. The study found that not only were computer using students did not perform as well academically, they were also less happy with their education.
The study did not examine the use of tablets as not taking. But, Pam Mueller, a student that help to lead the experiment said, “Tablets might be the best of both worlds—you have to choose what to write down, but then you have the electronic copy.” in the Atlantic article.
So next time you consider pulling out your laptop, maybe think twice.