Save the Pen, Paper, and Ink

Pen, paper, and ink win out after all. This article from Scientific American says that taking hand-written notes is more conducive to learning than using a laptop. I have long banned laptops from my classrooms, but this piece gives me even more evidence for my curmudgeonly rule.

Laptop users tend to write faster, which seems to be a benefit. Not so. The typists tend to take what is said and repeat it in their notes, thus tending to rote recording of material. The pen and paper crowd writes more slowly, but–and this is key–synthesize what they hear before they write. That is, instead of being stenographers (though the rapidity of the technology), they are more like students (who organize ideas into their writing).

The authors also mention that those using a laptop spend, on average, spend 40% of their time on line doing things totally unrelated to the classroom. That is diversion with a digital vengeance.

Faster is not always better. Technologies may as easily impede learning as promote it.