Should You Use Your Laptop to Take Notes During Class?

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Updated: February 14, 2024, Reading time: 9 minutes

Use Your Laptop to Take Notes During Class - featured image

Gone are the days when college students went to classes with only a notebook and a pen. While not all US colleges and universities require or allow the use of laptops during classes, many professors encourage students to take advantage of these tech gadgets, most especially when it comes to taking notes during class.

In fact, it’s been found that 85% of college students own a laptop computer, while 36% use tablets. It is important to determine how laptops really help during class.

How To Take Effective Notes in College

Taking notes during classes is vital for students to use these resources for study later. However, aside from utilizing the most effective note-taking tool, it’s equally important to gather tips on how to take notes in college effectively.

Here are some tips:

1. Decide whether to take notes on paper or digitally.

A plan is necessary to take good notes in college. In college, taking notes on paper with a pencil or pen or digitally are the two most effective methods. Before attending a class, it’s best to decide on the approach and ready your tools. Prepare a notebook and pen, or fully charge your laptop or gadget in order to take notes without hurdles.

2. Type or write neatly.

Being organized is essential to having good-quality notes. Make sure you can read what you write if you decide to write your notes by hand. Try to write as nicely as you can to avoid having to spend a lot of time later on self-decoding. The same thing goes for typing. While it’s easier to read texts on your gadget, not being able to type words clearly could lead to confusion when it’s time to revisit your notes later on.

3. Sit in front.

Although it’s the finest spot to pay attention in class, many students appear to dislike sitting at the front. It’s possible that you feel vulnerable or that your teacher can tell if you’re not paying attention when you’re seated in front. However, this is the best place to focus on the texts on the projector or board of the classroom. This allows you to see any words, graphs, or images clearly.

4. Make your notes brief.

Although it would be tempting to want to write or type down every detail the lecturer says, doing so will really work against you. If your typing speed is very high, you may be able to record almost everything. But it can be overwhelming to re-read them later on. Hence, make bullet points and only take down notes that are crucial to learning.

5. Consider note-taking strategies.

Having disorganized notes can make studying a complete nightmare. Establish a method before you start writing by hand or typing into a laptop or tablet. Most college students already have access to some of the best note-taking apps. You can arrange your thoughts using this note-taking program into virtual notebooks and tabs.

6. Reduce distractions.

It’s hard not to be distracted in class! College students with a lot on their hands resort to multitasking, which often does more harm than good. It’s best to focus on taking notes and perform the other task later on.

The Rise of Note-Taking Apps and Programs

The Rise of Note-Taking Apps and Programs - Image

Nowadays, many app developers have launched note-taking software and programs that are very useful for all kinds of students. With your tablet or laptop, you can download these apps and be able to use them anytime you want. They are easier to use yet equally as potent. All you have to do to begin writing is open your favorite word processor and create a blank document.

A variety of note-taking tools have arisen, and even modern laptops today have become even more portable and lightweight. This is ideal for students who are mobile and constantly on the move. Using a laptop, multitasking is feasible. You can take notes while watching a lecture online.

Should Students Take Notes Using Technology?

Because it forces students to interpret their notes, taking notes by hand appears to be preferable to taking notes on a laptop. Still, many students would have different viewpoints. Hence, it’s best to answer this question on neutral grounds. While taking notes with laptops and tablets is effective, it’s crucial to keep in mind that learning will suffer if laptops are causing distractions.

The effectiveness of taking notes by hand versus on a computer appears to depend on several elements, such as the duration of the learning process, the topic being learned, and the possibility for students to review the subject through their notes.

There seem to be more studies supporting handwritten notes than laptop notes. But it all boils down to preferences. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. So it’s all a matter of choosing what works for you.

Advantages of Taking Notes Electronically

For those who prefer to use their gadgets to take notes during class, here are some advantages of this method:

1. Simpler to Accomplish

Writing requires more physical effort than writing, which is why many students prefer typing on keyboards to using a pen to write down notes. Typing is very easy, and note-taking apps even have other features such as transcribing recordings, capturing images, and other features that make notes easily accomplished.

2. Keyword Allocation

Using a laptop allows you to make use of keywords and makes it easier for you to locate the specific notes you need during your study. Through the use of keywords, you can perform a quick search on your computer notes rather than waste time going through each page of your paper notes page by page.

3. Easy to Share

College students tend to share notes. Gone are the days of sending notes around by using a copy machine; computers make note-sharing a breeze. You can share your computer notes with your entire team in a few clicks.

4. Fewer Typos and Other Errors

Electronic note-taking allows you to erase and replace whatever you might need to change rapidly. They also come with auto-correcting features, so typos and grammar errors can be corrected automatically. 

4 Factors To Consider When Deciding How to Take Notes During Class

Factors To Consider When Deciding How to Take Notes During Class - Image

1. Tool Accessibility

If you take notes digitally, you can also utilize specialist note-taking software. That implies more than just the default notes app on your phone or email inbox. Many note-taking tools come with promising features to make your note experience a breeze.

2. Length of Class

The majority of people type much more quickly than they can write, which is crucial in lengthier sessions. For instance, you might be reviewing a new project with a ton of fresh ideas for an hour. Handwritten notes may force you to omit crucial information since you have to write more quickly to stay up. You can keep up and add all the important details by typing your notes instead.

3. Availability of Internet

Unfortunately, not all colleges or universities come with WiFi connectivity. Therefore, this is one factor to consider if you’re using an internet-reliant note-taking app. However, if you can tether your gadget to your mobile phone with the internet, then this makes it easier for you to take notes online.

Thanks to your internet connection, you can access a wealth of external resources when taking notes on a computer or other electronic device. This can be quite helpful, particularly if you don’t know anything about the issues being discussed during class.

4. Learning Style

Consider whether your learning style is factual or conceptual before selecting a note-taking strategy. Learning concepts entails putting concepts in your head. The main goal of factual learning is memorization. Taking notes on a laptop might be more advantageous for factual learning because you can type more quickly and capture only the most crucial information. 

3 Drawbacks of Taking Notes on a Laptop

No matter how feasible laptops are when taking notes, they do come with drawbacks, too.

1. Typing Brings Up Shallower Thoughts

When taking handwritten notes, you have to listen to the information and process it in order to identify the key points that need to be recorded. This allows you to use your train of thought primarily and ensure to maintain accurate information. However, with gadgets, you usually type what you listen to, and sometimes, it won’t require you to decipher that information. That’s a shallower cognitive process that involves more transcribing.

2. Laptops Can be Distracting

When utilizing an online note-taking application, you may find yourself drawn to other things. Notifications from other applications you use will reach you. Pop-up ads can distract you. You have a crucial email to receive. Even social media may tempt you to visit them when you receive notifications. All of this will obstruct the note-taking process and make it less effective.

3. Memory Reduction

Writing by hand is a fascinating process. It can improve the capacity of your memory. Studies reveal that writing by hand improves a person’s memory for lists of vocabulary items. You’ll recall more if you write down your shopping list by hand, for instance.

Use Your Laptop to Take Notes During Class - fact

There is no definite answer to whether using a laptop for taking notes is more effective than the old-school pen and paper. The fundamental problem with typing is that it makes individuals want to write down the information exactly as the speaker said it, which reduces their ability to think critically about it. However, it’s also worth considering that using notebooks and pens might cause inconvenience when you lose them!

Ultimately, it’s a matter of weighing these factors to decide on the note-taking method that works best for you.

Additional Resources:

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