The Long Debate on Notetaking: Laptops vs. Paper

Everyone always has something to say about using laptops in class. After having my first week of classes, and by default, another round of lectures on using technology in class, I have decided to give my two cents worth. I do believe that there are benefits of laptops, certainly, but I also do understand the points that professors are making. However, I am 100% Team Laptop for notetaking, here is why:

  1. Messy Writing: There are many students in my classes who’s notes are unbelievably beautiful. You know the type; the perfectionists that are blessed with the super human ability to write without making mistakes and crossing things out. They never have ink smudges or big slashes through the words they have decided to take out… this will forever baffle me. However, I am not one of these people. My brain is constantly reworking sentences long after I finish writing them. I am a different kind of perfectionist, the kind that always strives for better sentence structure and word choice. I revise and rewrite until I am happy. It also doesn’t help that my writing isn’t so neat. Therefore, a laptop is the perfect solution. Thank god for the backspace button!
  2. Organization: Binders and paper are the death of me. Loose sheets always falling out the sides. Hastily shoving them back in only to doom yourself further in unending chaotic mess. I am certain this isn’t the same for everyone. I have seen it done neatly before, but I have yet to master this technique myself. With google drive I sort everything into neat little folders. Each class with it’s own colour and separate folder for its lectures, assignments and readings. My laptop is my second brain. It is a safe haven for people like me that despise clutter. I instantly feel more productive, more organized and less stressed when I know that I can easily search and find anything I find in just a few seconds. 
  3.  Environmentally Friendly: I do not print notes, assignments or anything really unless I absolutely have to. I find that it is a complete waste of paper! I know for a fact that it will end up sitting around somewhere in a drawer or simply be recycled. I am all for recycling but why create an unnecessary mess and why give the world another reason to cut a tree down? I will gladly stick to collecting notes on my laptop in an effort to minimize the paper I use. As many students will recognize, many professors and TA’s still prefer marking up our papers by hand. While I personally prefer digital, I respect their decision to do so as this may be more comfortable for them. One day, however, I am sure that this will slowly become a less common phenomenon and we won’t be as required to print anymore. And hey, printer ink is expensive!

 

The Controversy:

  1. Distraction: I have heard countless times from instructors that our laptops are a distraction for the people around us and for ourselves. They claim that inevitably we will click over to another tab and open up Facebook. I feel as though they fail to recognize that students are responsible for their own learning and not all of us are likely to completely ignore our lecturers based on having the ability to surf the web. If we consciously have made the decision to be here and are using a laptop, we are doing so because this is our preferred method of learning. Students using paper can just as easily whip out their phones and become distracted. We all have technology at the end of our fingertips in 2018, and yet we also pay too much in tuition to go to class and not pay attention. We all know that one kid that is spending the whole class looking at his newest pair of nike kicks but the point is that having a laptop doesn’t necessarily make you more susceptible to distractions. Your work ethic is responsible for that.
  2. Light: If they dim the lights in your lecture hall, you can just as easily dim the brightness on your laptop. Besides, it isn’t a movie theatre, it really isn’t that dark. 

 

Laptops are a great aid in a learning environment as long as they are used productively and are not blinding the people around you.

pereanu-sebastian-643348-unsplashIf all else fails, bring out your handy-dandy typewriter and really tick off every single person in your lecture hall! Trust me, it’s been done…