Notebooks vs. laptops: a controversial comparison


Ana Gonzalez, Editor-in-Chief

Man, times have changed significantly in the past few years. Technology has evolved, from taking notes on notebook paper to taking notes on a reusable Rocketbook and/or on a laptop/tablet. These days, many students now have a variety of ways to learn thanks to technology.

I’m 28 years old. I fall under the small percentage of college students who still write notes on an old-fashioned notebook. In fact, I have a habit of buying a bulk of spiral notebooks that go on sale for about a dollar for every 10 of them, and use them whenever I need to. I have a drawer full of pens and pencils, because you have to be prepared, right?

This semester, I am taking two classes; the final two I need to graduate. I have noticed a drastic difference between the two of them when it comes to technology, and how my professors feel about them. It’ll be a while to get used to one thing or the other.

I don’t like to call out people, so we will call my professors A and B.

Professor A prohibited technological devices in class, saying that it’s a huge distraction to her lectures. So she added in her syllabus that a spiral notebook and a pen is required in class. For this class, as I did get a Rockebook Executive notebook for Christmas, I figured that it would help me with the class tremendously.

I’m not complaining. I didn’t mind the hand cramps. I sometimes had to ask the professor to repeat what they said so I could jot down the important information on it. I even had to ask myself what the heck did I wrote on that day, because sometimes my handwriting is not stellar.

Professor B, however, was the complete opposite. He encouraged laptops, tablets, cellphones, and etcetera. He understood the technology and how it improved students. For every class so far I was able to bring my power-hungry gaming laptop to take notes. It’s easy, and quicker than writing on paper. Professor B emphasized that as long as you are not playing Fortnite, you can take notes on your laptop or tablet.

However, my mind is at the same wavelength as a cat. Anything that pops up in front of me, such as an instant message notification, an email, or even a warning to restart my computer due to an update, distracts me from the lecture. Even a simple “Someone has liked your post on Facebook” distracts me, because my mind would be like “let’s see which post!” and it just goes downhill from there.

Of course, the simple way to prevent such distractions is to not connect your computer to the Internet, unless you use Google to search for more information on your professor’s lecture, then that’s understandable.

According to various studies, including one by Mueller and Oppenheimer, it turns out that taking notes by notebook and pen is more beneficial than taking notes by laptop. Students performed better on exams and quizzes, and have a higher GPA. They also have improved memory when it comes to retaining information.

Of course, every student is different when it comes to how they learn in class, whether they are audio, visual, or kinesthetic learners. Technology has its way of preferences when it comes to taking notes and passing your classes. Good luck, students!