More Notes on Notes on Taking Notes

The Editorial of the Daily Illini recently published an article on why instructors should allow students to use technology in class. I disagree with their claim.

The Editorial does address the fact that “technology is changing the way we learn.”  But they fail to address the negative effects of this technological advancement. Sure it improves certain aspects of education: we can record lectures with our phones, take pictures of complicated 3-D calculus drawings, and even look up a more detailed explanation of the professor’s notes. (All of these which the Editorial’s article doesn’t even mention.) In these cases, YES!, technology is very useful and can make a person more knowledgeable.

However, the utopian scenario above only exists to very few students. I could argue that most students use their computers for non-educational purposes (Twitter, gaming, random web browsing, etc.)

However, let’s assume that students only use computers for note-taking purposes. What benefits does taking notes on a computer provide that the classic pen-and-paper style doesn’t? The most prominent one is speed. Typing is faster than writing in most cases.

However, people are writing less and less on paper. When writing on paper, many students write in a style illegible to everyone but themselves. Some other people don’t even know how to read cursive, and even less can WRITE in cursive. Pathetic, I believe. When was the last time you wrote the capital letter “R” in cursive?

To understand a subject, one must first master the fundamentals. Well, the fundamentals of the English language are basic reading and basic writing. Learn to properly write with a pen and a piece of paper and THEN we’ll talk about typing on a computer. Learn how to organize your notes on paper to make them look neat and THEN we’ll talk about using OneNote or Google Docs. Learn how to have your notes separated by class without papers flooding your backpack and THEN we can talk about taking notes on your computer.

As Estelle commented on my previous post, binders were designed to help us be more organized, and I don’t think many professors ban binders from their classes. If new  technologies are available for us to use,  we should totally use them if we are ready for them. But as I said, not many young students are ready for computers in class. And as I mentioned before, I completely support the use of laptops by students who will actually use them for a baneful purpose.

In other words, don’t let software organize your schoolwork when you can’t even be organized by yourself. I know less people who take neat and readable notes than people with terrible writing skills.

If you have already mastered the basics of writing and you don’t get distracted by the internet’s equivalent of doodling, then go ahead, take notes on your computer. If you can’t write, then don’t.

Learn the basics before you move on to more advanced things.

Notes on Taking Notes

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The Editorial of the Daily Illini recently published an article on why instructors should allow students to use technology in class. I completely disagree with their claim.

The Editorial does address the fact that “technology is changing the way we learn.”  But they fail to address the negative effects of this technological advancement. Sure it improves certain aspects of education: we can record lectures with our phones, take pictures of complicated 3-D calculus drawings, and even look up a more detailed explanation of the professor’s notes. (All of these which the editorial’s article doesn’t even mention.) In these cases, YES!, technology is very useful and can make a person more knowledgeable.

However, the utopian scenario above only exists to very few students. I could argue that most students use their computers for non-educational purposes (Twitter, gaming, random web browsing, etc.) But we’ll leave that for later.

Let’s assume that students only use computers for note-taking purposes. What benefits does taking notes on a computer provide that the classic pen-and-paper style doesn’t? The most prominent one is speed. Typing is faster than writing in most cases.

However, people are writing less and less on paper. When writing on paper, many students write in a style illegible to everyone but themselves. Some other people don’t even know how to read cursive, and even less can WRITE in cursive. Pathetic, I believe. When was the last time you wrote the capital letter “R” in cursive?

To understand a subject, one must first master the fundamentals. Well, the fundamentals of the english language are basic reading and writing. Learn to properly write with a pen on a piece of paper and THEN we’ll talk about typing. Learn how to organize your notes on paper to make them look neat and THEN we’ll talk about using OneNote or Google Docs. Learn how to have your notes separated by class without papers flooding your backpack and THEN we can talk about taking notes on your computer.

In other words, don’t let software organize your schoolwork when you can’t even be organized by yourself. I know less people who take neat and readable notes than people with terrible writing skills.

If you have already mastered the basics of writing and you don’t get distracted by the internet’s equivalent of doodling, then go ahead, take notes on your computer. If you can’t write, then don’t.

Learn the basics before you move on to more advanced things.

Secondary Source References

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1. Curran-Kelly, Catharine. “Stranger In A Strange Land: Using International Student Experiences To Teach Adaptation In Global Marketing.” Marketing Education Review 15.2 (2005): 55-58. Business Source Complete. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

2. Lin, Miranda. “Students Of Different Minds: Bridging The Gaps Of International Students Studying In The US.” Online Submission (2012): ERIC. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

3. Douglass, John Aubrey, Richard Edelstein, and Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education University of California. “The Global Competition For Talent: The Rapidly Changing Market For International Students And The Need For A Strategic Approach In The US. Research & Occasional Paper Series. CSHE.8.09.” Center For Studies In Higher Education (2009): ERIC. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

4. Spillan, John E., Manmohan D. Chaubey, and Ramin Maysami. “Career Interest In International Business: A Comparative Study Of Peruvian, Chilean And Us Students.” Journal Of International Business Research 10.(2011): 21-34.Business Source Complete. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

5. Qiu, Wei. “Language Adjustment of International Students in the US: A Social Network Analysis on the Effects of Language Resources, Language Norm and Technology.” ProQuest LLC (2011). ERIC. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

Responses. Responses Everywhere.

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In order to not confuse STEVEN Johnson and Dana STEVENS, I will refer to Mr. Johnson as ‘Steven’ and to Ms. Stevens as ‘Dana,’ with no intentions of being disrespectful.

So author Steven Johnson decides to argue that watching TV makes you smarter in his essay, “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” but movie critic Dana Stevens disagrees on his point of view and tells him to think outside the idiot box in his essay, “Think Outside the Idiot Box.” Dana blatantly responded to Steven’s long-ass essay in less than 24 hours in a response that  seems to be full of wrath and disagreement. First of all, by naming her article, “Think Outside the IDIOT Box,” Dana not only insultingly laughs at Steven, but she also refers to his thoughts as being idiotic. In her introduction, she keeps crushing Steven’s arguments with statements such as “I could make no sense of [Steven’s] piece.” Steven and Dana are on completely opposite extremes of the viewpoint.

Following her introduction, Dana recognizes Steven’s essay as a powerful, strong, well-built article. She paraphrases and summarizes it in a few sentences. She quotes him on the argument that he makes in order to explicitly differentiate their standpoints. But after that, she decides to stick mostly with paraphrasing and summarizing to make her essay concise and direct. A few quotation marks are thrown in there every once in a while in order to expose proof and validity, and to fulfill every writer’s desire to visually see four apostrophes enclosing a sentence in any “well-founded” piece of writing (maybe Cormac McCarthy was right. Maybe quotation marks are stupid and a waste of time, but that’s for another essay). She does, however, conclude with short quotations that describe Steven’s specific description of why we watch TV shows. The seven or eight two- or three-word quotations that she uses throughout her argument do provide an appropriate context of Steven’s discussion and prove the point that she is trying to make. She does frame, introduce, and explain every quotation effectively, but I feel like her use of paraphrasing (about nine) adapts better to the style of her short and straight-to-the-point response.

They Quote / I Quote

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As the book itself puts it, “Quoting someone else’s words gives a tremendous amount of credibility to your summary” (42). The introduction to the chapter explains that many authors fail to provide sufficient quotations, whereas those who overquote tend to be short on commentary. However, as Graff puts it, “the main problem with quoting arises when writers assume that quotations speak for themselves” (43). He argues that many students fail to explain the meaning of quotations after using them. Graff also mentions that a quote must be relevant to the text in order for it to be used. He writes, “finding relevant quotations is only part of your job; you also need to present them in a way that makes their relevance and meaning clear…” (44). In other words, time has to be spent on researching applicable quotations as well as on framing them and displaying them in a clear and correct manner.

After explaining “hit-and-run” quotations (quotations are not explained by the author) with childish drawings and texts about anorexic women, Graff summarizes the first half of the chapter with the term “quotation sandwich.” A quotation sandwich is made up of an introduction statement and an explanation to a quotation that goes in between them. According to the authors, “The introductory claims should explain who is speaking and set up what the quotation says; the follow-up statements should explain why you consider the quotation to be important…” (46). The authors explain here the correct use of quotations, which requires an appropriate introduction followed by a thorough explanation of it. Graff then provides templates for introducing and explaining quotations. These templates, I believe, are the heart of the text: they provide variations of different styles that one may use to successfully introduce and define quotations. These are finally followed by a conclusion, mainly composed of examples of how NOT to introduce quotations, which I consider a very fruitful yet comical part of the text.

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010.

Other Issues/Observations in our Community

1. I am very interested in people who have their earphones/headphones on while they walk from class to class. Is there a common genre that they listen to? Do they want to be alone or do they just want to listen to music? These may be perceived as stupid questions, but I believe that most people doing this listen to the same type of music.

2. What is the deal with the ECE store at Everitt? Why is it located there? Does the University run it? Why is it not advertised much, and how many people know about it? What do they sell there and why is it so cheap?

Nevertheless, I am still interested in continuing my previous project. The development of the recycling idea could lead to very interesting conclusions. I would like to keep doing extensive observations on people who voluntarily pick up trash and throw it away.

Things I’ve Observed

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Leaves are already falling

There are no urinals in the men’s restroom in Allen Hall ground floor. It looks like a women’s restroom. What’s the deal with that?

The TVs in the dining halls give a real-time update on bus schedules.

Clouds. I observed clouds.

What is the deal with the creek that runs through the engineering quad? Why does it have a bike trail? Does it ever carry water?

The benches at the undergraduate library don’t touch the floor!

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Two of the trees in between the Henry Administration Building and the English Building are very reddish.

I saw a family with 7 kids picnicking in the quad!

Chicago

I observed the sky. The clouds. Again.

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Why does the bean have that shape? What’s the deal with that?

They were filming Transformers in downtown Chicago!

Millenium Park closes at 11:00 pm. Why?

To Write or Not to Write

Writing is not my favorite thing in this world. I enjoy writing stories or poems every once in a while, but I can’t say that writing has had a big impact on my life outside of school.

I despised writing, especially writing in english. There was no reason for me to write in english before my high school years in Atlanta. Even once I got to high school, I detested writing so much that I would come up with excuses to somehow exempt my english homework. In fact, I only started to enjoy writing once reading books became a habit. Reading books like Huckleberry Finn or The Count of Monte Cristo inspired me to write with passion. I also fell in love with the writing styles of Dan Brown and John Green after reading several books by them. Then I realized how important it is to be able to express yourself through writing. John Green explains in his novels so many ideas I had in my head that I never thought would be possible to write on paper. I realized that you can’t go far in life without writing. I realized that I needed to put more effort into writing and learning how to write.