Techniques for taking notes

More than usual, students sitting in class are surrounded by the ticking of keyboards, the scratching of pencils, the crinkle of paper as other students are bent over their desks; their peers studiously taking notes. With finals close at hand, taking notes is even more crucial than ever.  Ideally, each student has their own way of taking notes and know which way works for them best.

Laptops, in correlation with our ever-growing technological society, are one of the most popular ways to take notes. Not only because fast typists can get more written than the fastest writers, but also because they are clean, legible, easy to edit and organization, and easy to search for a reference when needed. Specific points of importance can be bolded or italicized with a quick ctrl+b or ctrl+i. Items can be placed, deleted, or rearranged with a simple click.

“When taking notes I usually use my laptop, which is bad because I hate using my laptop because it’s loud and distracting but I hate writing my notes because I can’t write fast enough,” Emily Wasser, a UAA student said.

Besides the noisy ticks of typing fingers the biggest downfall of laptops is the power constraints. Some laptops consume mass amounts of power when relying on battery, and cannot last the entire class period, cutting the note taking short. They can also become a distraction for those with short attention spans get distracted by IM’ing and web surfing.

I use my laptop so I can look at slides and take notes. I can also look up answers to questions,” said student John Erikson.

However, not everyone likes laptops or can afford them and have to resort to more traditional methods of note taking.

“I don’t own a laptop so I have no choice but to use pen and paper,” said student Michael Stanton.

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Those who are masters with the pen or pencil to paper are able to bring a mix of short hand and memory notes to encompass the vast amount of information presented in a short period of time. Others handle more than one colored pen at once, using different colors to iterate items of importance. But with any other note taking tool, this method also has its biggest drawback of broken lead or the drying of ink mid-sentence. Taking the time to fumble for a sharpener or a spare can distract a student from the lecture and cause them to miss an important point or note.

Another tool that very few students use is the smart pen. About $100 for a pen and $15 for a stack of special notebooks may seem a little hefty. But the cost could be meaningless in comparison to the differences it could make between a B or an A. The pen records the teacher talking while the notes are being written. Later on, a person can take the pen, touch it to whatever place in the notes that need to be heard, and the pen will automatically play what was being recorded while those specific notes were being taken.

However, the preference is not limited to those of the student, but also those of the professor. Some professors prefer that laptops not be used for the exact reason that it is more of a distraction than a learning aid. Though the majority of professors don’t really care what a student uses as long as they are following the lesson and not distracting other students.

Whatever technique a student prefers for note taking, the art of it takes practice. Each student will find their flow with their specialized way of taking notes whether it is through laptop, pen to paper, or smart pen.