It seems as though the age of laptops in classrooms came and went in the blink of an eye. To start off the school year, many professors have put their foot down and begun to insist that notes be taken by hand. For some, taking notes with a pencil or pen seems archaic. Other students happen to prefer it.
At this point, most students in college have experimented with taking notes on their laptop or tablet. While there’s no question taking notes on a laptop is faster than by hand and allows students to nearly transcribe a lecture given by a professor, studies suggest there may still be benefits to taking notes by hand.
Some students may feel like they are being treated like children, which is fair to an extent. How old does one have to be before they’re mature enough to simply make a decision as minuscule as how they prefer to record notes?
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A University of Wisconsin professor, who requests to remain anonymous, said “today’s students should be taught how to access information and memorize less. We have such a wealth of information — why should we ignore that when we are in the classroom?” He also acknowledged that colleagues cite the use of looking up non-class related material during lecture as the primary concern in allowing technology in the classroom.
This professor brought up a great point about learning how to access information, especially considering technology will be used constantly when students graduate and begin their careers. But it’s not that far of a stretch to argue that these same students who advocate for technology in class have lost the privilege to do so.
One of the cardinal principles of social research is that correlation does not equal causation. Applying this notion to the topic at hand, it is important to note that using a laptop in class does not directly result in getting distracted. But a computer in class serves as a vehicle for finding ways to pass the time other than taking notes, which can distract other students as well.
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Facebook, Twitter and Amazon are all a tab away when taking notes on a laptop. Thus, while laptops may be faster and allow one to take more notes — regardless of the fact that science has proven this to be ineffective — using technology in the classroom is just a way to make a lecture go by faster.
Logically speaking, if there are two methods to take notes and one method has been scientifically proven to be superior to another, why would someone opt to use the inferior method?
Simply put, students pay tens of thousands of dollars throughout their time at this university. They pay money to receive an education, which taking notes during class is an integral part of. Why waste thousands of dollars on an education just to shop on Urban Outfitters or Amazon during class? One might as well throw away the money next time.
It is unfortunate that it has come to this. While many professors bring up valid points striving for an overall goal of altering how the classroom operates, with students thinking critically more and trying to access information rather than simply memorizing notes, the discipline required by students for that is simply not there yet.
The point of going to class is to push oneself to have an open mind and come out of a lecture smarter — or at least better prepared — than at the beginning of class. Constantly checking the latest tweets, deals for clothes online or status update is not conducive to the true purpose of going to class.
Mitch Rogers ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in economics