Now that we’re entering the post-COVID era, the question of going digital in class remains: Should students ditch their laptops for traditional pen and paper?
All the classes I enrolled in the semester do not permit the use of laptops in their class; instead, students are expected to jot down notes by hand in traditional notebooks. While I have no problem with taking notes with the handy pen and paper, I’m sure many students prefer to use their own electronic devices to take notes. Evidently, I have witnessed many of my classmates pull out their laptops and iPads at the start of class.
Nevertheless, I have also witnessed professors announce to their class that the usage of laptops is not allowed, preferring that everyone stick to pen and paper. I could tell some students were a bit annoyed by this policy. Most of my friends told me that their professors were enforcing the same restriction.
Professors may allow a laptop or tablet for taking notes if you ask for one privately or if you have a note from Disability Services. However, suppose you are caught doing work for another class or browsing a website that is irrelevant to the class you are attending. In that case, a professor can easily remove the privilege of using an electronic device.
I tried to put myself in the professor’s shoes regarding this issue, and I presume that they are probably concerned about students’ attention spans following almost two years of online and hybrid classes.
While Zoom more or less got the job done for remote classes, professors had less control over whether or not their students were paying attention to the lesson. Students could text, scroll social media, open another browser, watch TV, and more. It is tempting to avert your attention to something else when you have a laptop or tablet with you in class. Students have been using the zoom/hybrid learning style for two to three years now; now, it is time to readjust and get back into the classroom without using electronics.
With students back in the classroom, I believe that professors are trying to reconnect with their students the old-fashioned way, attempting to have them focus on the material they are learning rather than whatever is on their screens.
While I am sure that most students prefer to use an electronic device during class, taking notes on pen and paper is not the worst. Most students have done it at one point in time or another or another. And, while notes have advanced plenty over the years, the standard pen and paper have proven just as effective, if not more so.
Professors want to limit the distractions in the classroom when they are teaching. While I know every professor has their classroom policy in regard to laptops, this change is probably for the best, even if students don’t think so themselves.
While using an electronic device may be more convenient, you can always type all your notes into Miscrosoft Word or Google Docs and carry them around wherever you go. I find that I memorize or learn the material better when I handwrite notes.
Everyone is different though. Some people find that they memorize material more effectively by typing it out or using a tablet and smart pen to electronically hand write notes.
If your professor has the no laptop rule, please respect their wishes and do not go against them. If you do want to use one, speak to them privately about the matter, asking if they grant exceptions on a case by case basis. They expect you to uphold the rules they have laid out for you and your classmates. If you don’t follow them, professors can deduct points for participation, which will lower your grade in the end. I don’t know about you, but hand written notes sounds better than a poor grade!