The debate over handwritten versus typed notes has been contentious for many years, with countless studies and articles favoring the former. However, after a year and change of online schooling, is it still worth it to stay with tradition, or should students embrace the impact of technology on something so simple?
After the pandemic disrupted my sophomore year, almost all of my notes were written on Google Docs. The same was true for my junior year. As a senior, it was a mixed bag. Some teachers did not care if we used our laptops, while others preferred handwritten notes. A perfect example of the latter comes from my AP English Lit class. My teacher required not only our notes to be taken by hand but also our short-answer assessments and final exam. His reasoning was because students have gotten so used to typing things out over the past year-and-a-half, it was time to go back to handwritten notes. He is really into calligraphy, so I cannot say I was surprised.
A system that worked for me recently involved taking my handwritten notes, typing them up and then sorting them into relevant folders. Sifting through my horrendous lefty handwriting and organizing the notes by units was useful when it came to preparing for exams. Having them on my computer also meant ease of access to the information, ditching the task of searching through binders in favor of everybody’s friend, Command (or Control) + F.
After incorporating that system into my studies, I believe I have found a viable method for college. If you asked me to pick a side, however, I still could not tell you if I prefer one over another. I certainly see the value of writing by hand — I have an absurd amount of notebooks, several of which are blank. At the same time, I enjoy the ease of typing my notes. I find it a little more relaxing, and formatting them is a breeze.
As other students head back to school and face a similar dilemma, it is crucial to find a system that works for them with the tools they already have. I used to have almost one notebook or binder for each class (in addition to my laptop). Although this made organization easy, it was a burden lugging them between classes. I have since decided that using one or two multi-subject notebooks will be the way to go for the upcoming school year. Additionally, I have used Notion to organize my various summer tasks. It is a valuable resource with templates that have students in mind, and one that I will be counting on in the future.
If the last two years have taught us anything, they have proved how important it is to adapt to the challenges that come our way. Note-taking has evolved over the years, and nowhere has the shift been more evident than after months of online learning. Some may still enjoy taking notes by hand, and there is no problem with that. Likewise, people who type their notes up could better retain information that way. At the end of the day, it is all about perspective.
Students have to make do with what they have, and whether it involves notebooks, apps, or a combination of both, the easier the process is, the better the school year will be.