Laptop v. old school notes in the classroom

The thing is, in this technology-driven world, it is easy to default to the latest app and/or technological advancements in an attempt to make our lives easier.  And it is not uncommon to see a sea of laptops in classes these days.  Particularly in universities and college classrooms.


But is tech really the answer in classrooms for problem solving and good old note-taking.


A  New York Times article took a look at the pros and cons of taking notes in the classroom: comparing a laptop to old school note-taking. 


But is typing out a lecture in a verbatim manner with a laptop really the best approach to getting an A? 


OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, are there benefits to utilizing a good old fashioned pen and paper instead?


Let's take a look. 


wipebook whiteboard notebook dude with laptop


It may be surprising, but a good old fashion pen and paper has some considerable benefits over a laptop.


One benefit is that a NOTEBOOK affords NO DISTRACTIONS -- well unless you're a doodler maybe ;)


It's no secret that our digital devices have no end to potential distractions with endless social media accounts and communication platforms.


This, of course, is not the case with pen and paper. Approaching note-taking the old fashion way thus frees your mind from the constant notifications and at the end of the day makes you more productive.




wipebook whiteboard notebook bunch of students working


Another benefit of good old fashion note-taking is something called DISFLUENCY.


DISFLUENCY is the act of breaking something down and making it your own. For example, interpreting a lesson by directing your hand on a physical sheet of paper with a physical writing instrument forces you to rearrange the information and IDEAS so in the end they are more easily imprinted in your brain. The information is now YOURS....


Absorbing the information and putting it into your own words is what is referred to as a “disfluency.”


Charles Duhigg made the New York Times bestseller's list in 2016 with his book, Smarter, Better, Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, and describes how disfluency positively affects learning in the context of the 2014 study mentioned in a predecessor post Put it in your own words (Part 1).


He states that "writing is more disfluent than typing, because it requires more labor and captures fewer verbatim phrases" [quoted by Dean Bokhari in "Disfluency: the secret to turning knowledge into power."] 


wipebook whiteboard notebook bunch of students in the classroom


When writing on a computer, it is easy to take down more information more quickly.


This may seem like a good thing but it is possible to actually overload yourself with too much information.


Writing by hand is slower and requires you to be selective with what you record and ultimately helps you train your mind to be selective and to know what information is most vital.  




Pen and paper is still the best way to succeed in the classroom and help you truly excel as a student.  Even with all of the technological advancements today.


Just Sayin'