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.