Almost everyone these days shows up to class with a computer. I’m not sure exactly what people do on them because I only see lid of the computer; the screen is pointing away from me. They could be checking their email or posting on Facebook or, please God, they could be taking notes or keeping up with the class PowerPoint.
There is some new research which says that the act of writing is better than typing on a computer or other digital device when it comes to learning and retaining information. Why? First because writing engages a different part of your brain, a part more suited to memory and learning. Second, writing forces you to process information in a different way. In other words, it forces you to think more about what you are doing. I’ve seen secretaries type letters and then when you ask them what was that letter about, they had no idea. Third, research shows that it creates a better pathway for your memory and helps to facilitate recall. Last, writing things down is a different kind of kinetic experience (moving) which gives you an edge when it comes to remembering and understanding concept.
Now, I have to admit that I have sensed this for a while, but it has been confirmed by a number of things I’ve read recently from Michael Hyatt, who is a leadership guru and a giant techie. Still he has had to admit that going back to the old fashioned way of taking notes and writing down tasks is superior to just typing it on a screen.
One last thing. I alluded to it earlier. Computers and technology have a way of distracting us from what we should be thinking and doing. We’ve all seen families out to eat in a restaurant, and all are on separate devices. Instead of talking to one another and enjoying the meal together, they are distracted by what might be the phone. I have seen students on Facebook or email in class instead of being on track with a lecture or class discussion. Not a pretty sight, especially if you’re the professor. These devices do one thing well; they distract us from what is truly important.
So instead of going to Best Buy and spending $700 to $1700 on a new computer for class, just go to Walmart spend about $7 on a notebook and a good pen (or pencil).