“you learn better, handwriting”

Posted on April 17, 2016

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http://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away

Or, “Put your laptops away!”

Well, it turns out that the “magic” difference is that you can’t keep up with the lecture by handwriting, so you’re more likely to conceptualize and work with the content; with laptops, people type madly to get verbatim.

My immediate thought was that *I* would not  be typing verbatim.    Well, in the experiment, they explicitly told students second time ’round  *not to do that* and… people were not able to shake that tendency.

I’d love to know how many of these folks are “will this be on the test?” types … in which case, that’s how they work,  or of the “get it all down, figure it out later” mindset.   OF course, these were “TED talks” that they were taking notes on — so straight up lecture, no interaction.   The courses I’ve been taking recently have had lecture — but with 25 students, so people were participating to a degree.   When I’ve done notes from videos for MOOCs, I’ve hit pause and consolidated and contemplated and even responded and, oh, blogged about things, like I’m doing now…

Now, in the study, students “were given the chance to review their notes” and still the handwriters did better.   However, I wonder… I’m willing to bet that students who had developed the habit of — while short term memory was still fresh — rewriting the notes might do better than all of ’em.

At the very end of the piece, the interviewee mentioned LiveScribe — the recorder pen with which you take notes “longhand” while it’s recording, and when you touch that spot on the (special paper) page, it will play back what was happening then.   She suggests that might be an easier sell than “leave the laptop at home.”   I can tell you that my  tendency would be to let the little recorder do its verbatim thing and I’d take pretty brief, outliny notes and be all listeny and “call on me!” for the lecture (yes, even if it’s a video on the computer ;))  And I can tell you that it’s utterly *awesome* to be able to tap that page and hear exactly the ten seconds you want.

… But then again I’m not an undergrad university student in a lecture — I’ve had years of practice honing my learn-from-lecture skills (with varying degrees of temptation to go to Internet — but that temptation came years after I had just a little of that thing called self-discipline).   I’d be curious about the same study w/ grad students… yes, and dysgraphic students or anybody else who’s actually had to figure out how to make learning work.

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