The Pen vs Keyboard

As technology slowly creeps into every facet of our daily lives, with it goes the traditional and conventional ways of society. Texting and social media bring about a new era for communication, leaving handwritten letters and notepads out to dry. With predictive text and spell check, typing on a smartphone or computer brings about both benefits and disadvantages to students. So, the question that forms is whether classic pen-to-paper note taking affects the way we learn? Or is it just the same taking the notes down via a clang of the keyboard?

Handwriting involves motor movement; making letters and then telling the hand to scribble the curves and edge. Such movement employs the trusty skills of the brain.  But while it can take some time for students to get the hang of it (and even then, some of it can still be atrocious), it allows students to progress and master the skill. When editing an assignment or a simple paragraph, the red scribbles and big crosses show the process. One major draw card to strapping student’s hands to a pen, is in remembering and recognising. For the little ones, writing down and following letters on a page helps to pick out a b in a sign. By writing it all down, it triggers body memory. Taking down notes in class via pen and paper may help in remembering content in associating movement with concepts.

How to type on a keyboard; it’s simple. If you want an ‘A’, all students must do is locate the ‘A’ on a keyboard and press it. In that way, it’s a much quicker process.  Having to write out the sentence from the board on a notepad, letter by letter can be time consuming. However, running fingers across a keyboard in time with the presentation gets all the information done in a jiffy. In not having to think about the letter or the way it’s supposed to look, students have extra time to consume the knowledge. Letting the topic sink in can allow for students to think and expand further in the moment. The chunk of time taken to edit is also cut down, with the red squiggly lines and blue symbols even helping to point out the errors.

It’s a battle between old and new. The trusty ballpoint pen or the quick, simple slap of a keyboard. Both take notes and both allow students to absorb the information in different ways and with different advantages. Some students may opt for the traditional, while others can take the modern route. Either way, the most important thing is that students are taking notes, absorbing content and continuing the learning process.