On Friday, two seemingly unrelated events occurred. The first was the delivery of a new Evernote Moleskine. Upon seeing this, my wife asked, “Why do you need this? As the Director of Technology at your school, don’t you take notes on your computer, iPad, or iPhone?”
Even though I do try to use the latest tools and devices in order to determine how they might be best used as we try to harness and leverage the use of technology, I have always resorted to using multiple color pens and a notebook in meetings, especially one-to-one or small group meetings. Why? For several reasons. First, when I take notes, I like to capture the key concepts that are being discussed, not the full transcript of the conversation. Secondly, I love to sketch, draw cloud bubbles, and arrows to connect ideas and highlight key connections I have made during the meeting. Sometimes these are related ideas, sometimes they are synthesized from other idea fragments that are bouncing around my head, and sometimes it is an unrelated reminder that occurs to me. While I could use an iPad for these visual sketch notes that I scribble out, I love the tactile feel of the pen running across the paper compared to the feedback from my finger or a stylus. It’s not even close.
In meetings, I use a notebook and pen so that I am not hidden behind and screen. I feel that this lowers the barrier for those who might be more reluctant to embrace the potential of technology in learning.
Later that evening, I was was browsing my RSS reader. One article from Harvard Business Review jumped off of the page, “What You Miss When You Take Notes on a Laptop”. (https://hbr.org/2015/07/what-you-miss-when-you-take-notes-on-your-laptop) In this article, Maggy McGloin shares three research studies that demonstrated that taking notes on a laptop was detrimental to overall conceptional understanding and retention of material.
This information will be essential to keep in mind as we develop new ways and strategies to best leverage our increased dependence, expectations, and utilization of personal devices, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. We will need to remain mindful of a balanced and appropriate use of the right tool and technology (pen and paper versus laptop) as we help our students make sense of the world around us.