​Leave the Laptop, Grab a Pen and Take Better Notes, Say Researchers

​Leave the Laptop, Grab a Pen and Take Better Notes, Say Researchers

Oct 10, 2014

ONE POINT FOR THE PEN: Do students lose comprehension by taking notes on keyboards, rather than by hand? It’s a tense debate, dotted with research and rebuttals. First up, researchers Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer think so, as they argue that “laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning,” in a recently-released report titled “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard.”

But not everyone agrees. In a direct response on EdWeek, Sabba Quidwai, Director of Innovative Learning for the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, criticizes Mueller and Oppenheimer for assuming that the purpose of note-taking should remain the same as educational methods change. She poses the question, “Do we use innovations to redefine our world or do we try to use them as replacement tools to take the place of what we have always done?” For students to benefit from devices, Quidwai argues, tools must facilitate new methods of learning.

The back-and-forth emulates an EdSurge article from August, “When the Pen is Mightier Than the (Chromebook) Keyboard,” where fourth grade teacher and Fifty States Project Utah representative J. Derek Larson shared his opinion that writing by hand has its benefits, as it helps monitor student attention and comprehension.

How do you think educators can use technology to transform learning, rather than as substitutions for older tools? Let us know your perspective in the comments section below!

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