Students are using technology now more than ever in today's digital age, using their computers and laptops for everything from note-taking to giving presentations. When stuck inside, they even use them to go to class! Modern technology advances have been vital to providing specialized care and more individualized education to students with different needs. Still, they have also limited the efficacy of some methods of studying and participation. While it might not be possible for some students to take written notes because of ability level or other learning accommodations, here are some reasons why those who can should at least consider handwriting notes.
Aids in Memorization
It has been proven in various studies that writing notes out instead of typing them can be more helpful in the memorization of that material. Of course, the student would need to understand the concept with either method for this to be effective, but overall, writing makes memorization much more effortless. Typing uses a very similar physical motion for every letter typed, and the page that the student writes on is not tangible. When handwriting notes, though, the student has to employ a different motion for every single letter.
Additionally, the writing styles can make a huge difference in whether or not something is remembered. When the student uses their writing, it's more personalized than using a pre-programmed font. When you write in your handwriting, the information tends to have a more significant impact since it might take longer and require deliberate word choice. However, typing is generally faster and can allow the student to copy down every word said by the instructor, which may clutter their notes.
Improves Handwriting and Writing Skills
As mentioned before, handwriting notes require the student to use more deliberate word choices as it takes longer than typing. Handwriting notes improve students' skill in picking out the most important main ideas and information in a lecture. Typing can help the class have a lot of information that needs to be taken down quickly, but handwriting those same notes can help the student sift through the information and memorize the most salient points more quickly.
This might be debatable by some, but handwriting notes can also improve a student's handwriting. Through constant practice, the student will develop their handwriting skills, just like any other skill applied constantly. However, there are plenty of people who write every day and have horrible handwriting, so the student may be forced to develop better handwriting out of necessity. If they can't read their notes, they can't study and succeed! Even if they choose to type their preliminary notes, if they want to make a handwritten study guide, they'll need to be able to read it.
Although there are plenty of options to customize digital notes like highlighting, bulleting, different fonts, and font sizes, handwritten notes have more options! When handwriting, it's easier to draw out diagrams that the teacher has created or shown, layouts are more tailorable to the student's needs, and students can make the notes as artistic or as streamlined as they desire. Digital notes require different steps for customization, and no matter how many templates the student has, it most likely will never be as fast as just being able to draw or write anywhere on the page at any time.
Many argue that digital notes are more sustainable than paper notes, but this is not necessarily the case. Notebooks indeed require some amount of deforestation and paper usage because they are, of course, made of paper. However, digital waste or "e-waste" can be incredibly harmful to the environment. Additionally, computers require repeated use of electricity to be recharged every day. While this might not be comparable to the amount of energy expended from cutting down trees and processing them into paper, as batteries lose efficacy, they either need to be charged more often or replaced, causing e-waste. If a student writes small, they can use the entirety of a notebook over the course of a year. Being mindful of how you use resources can make them more sustainable.
Eye Strain and Digital Distraction
Digital resources are incredibly useful, but they can cause eye strain and even eye damage through repeated operation. Writing out notes in a notebook doesn't cause eye strain, however. The blue light that screens emit can cause macular degeneration and eye irritation, which will increase in the long run as students continue to use their devices frequently. Additionally, when students use computers to take notes, they may be more inclined to go on social media sites or online shopping sites. Even if the student needs to use the computer to attend class, using a notebook requires both hands and ensures they are more focused (although they might doodle a bit!).
All in all, whether students use a digital format or handwritten format for their notes is up to their preference. However, for the learning process and the limitation of eye strain and electricity usage, handwriting notes is more beneficial. It will most likely allow the student to be immersed in their notes and remember more information than if they were distractedly typing notes on a computer while switching tabs to other distractions.
Author: Jack Shearer
Jack has experience in writing list-style pieces, long and short opinion or personal pieces, and other types of article formats as well. Though they mainly focused on writing about activism, they also write about LGBTQ+ issues, language, and music in their free time.