The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

Ink or Pixels

How does KHS feel about the debate between digital and paper notes?
Montana Brush
A comparison of handwritten and digital notes.
Conducted January 2024, 107 students took place, data from google form, asked the students how they prefer taking notes

Among the flipping of notebook pages and the tap of keyboards in classrooms, a silent debate between students and teachers continues: Should students stick to the traditional reliability of paper notes or embrace digital notes?
Throughout students’ journeys in finding their preferred note-taking methods, the choice between ink and pixels becomes more than a situation of personal preference; it’s a decision that students make that in the long run shapes how we absorb, remember, and engage with information. As the pencil and the Chromebook collide, the battle begins: which note-taking method truly holds the key to success?

By using a computer (or even an iPad) to take notes, students don’t need to bring 3-5 notebooks to school every day for all the different subjects. Many note-taking apps such as Google Docs and NoteShelf allow students (and teachers) to take notes efficiently and keep them organized. This way, there’s no way students can lose random papers
While digitally taking notes, whether it’s during a lecture or just new information from a chapter, students can effortlessly take notes on everything in the topic as opposed to having to pick and choose what parts of the information they want to write down before the teacher starts speaking on something else. Students can also quickly color code their notes or write in their preferred fonts with digital notes; paper notes limit students’ creative freedom especially if they’re trying to keep up with a lecture.

KHS history teacher Dr. Steven Racine said, “An advantage to digital notes is that students can type faster than they can write so you could write down more information that way.”
Taking notes digitally definitely has its pros such as better organization, creative freedom, and the ability to take more notes out of a lesson but it also obviously has its cons. Drawbacks like distractions, eye strain from the light, and not having muscle memory are all valid reasons why teachers (and students) would prefer paper notes.
However, with the advantages of digital note-taking, also come advantages of traditional paper notes. The physical act of writing completely changes the note-taking process. Not only do teachers prefer the traditional paper notes but surprisingly, most KHS students prefer them too.

According to Lunds University, “There are other studies that show how more areas of the brain are activated when we’re writing by hand than when we’re pressing down the keys of a keyboard. Additionally, it seems like our personal handwriting on paper engages us more and is a better trigger for our memory.”

Along with the “better memory” benefits of handwritten notes, many students would agree that they prefer paper notes because they get easily distracted on Chromebooks. In fact, KHS sophomores Victoria Kooyenga and Brooke Hanna said, “There’s no way to manage the distraction. We just don’t.”

Although, beyond the simplicity and short-term memory students might gain from paper notes, taking digital notes is more enjoyable and easier for students than using paper. The feeling of having clear and organized notes is something that can’t be beaten, compared to messy handwriting and lead all over a notebook page. Students can add in any font they like, implement any writing size, and draw whatever they want — the possibilities are endless.

Students also get the benefit of having good grammar and correct spelling in their notes along with making perfectly straight graphs/diagrams vs. the sloppy ones that get made on paper. Not to mention, if a student is willing to put just a little more time into studying, the digital notes can be just as effective as the traditional paper.
KHS sophomore Peter Schmidt said, “I prefer taking notes on a Chromebook because of the grammar and spell check. It helps not to get things wrong.”

Everyone has their preferences when it comes to taking notes but let’s face it, nothing feels better than only having to carry a computer in your backpack or knowing exactly where all your notes are and where to find them. No matter what happens in the future, it’s undeniable that most things (if not everything) will go digital so students and teachers should start to consider the advantages and conveniences that digital notes bring them.

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