Amazon: Miquelrius Journal

Abstract: Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing.  

In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.
Source: The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard

Since the age of 17, I’ve carried a basketweave small notepad (like this one) to write down stuff; I still carry it when on the go and not at work…it works great for disposable notes, shopping lists (although I try to use Evernote lists for that). I find it helped me make connections between disparate ideas, which is the secret to creativity–the juxtaposition of disparate ideas.

At first, it started out as a place to jot down quotable quotes, then grew into lists of what I needed to do, or thought that I should spend more time thinking about. I’d grown up taking notes in a Memo composition book, and spent many long hours writing and composing but switched to the smaller form factor for portability.

When laptops came out, of course, I immediately saw them as the way to take notes verbatim. In fact, I enjoyed live blogging events because I could type as fast as the speaker. Unfortunately, I began to notice that I was getting disconnected from the ideas. My memory started to fail, and I couldn’t help but wonder, was I just getting old?

Then, when research came out that taking notes longhand actually improves retention and processing of ideas, I decided to use my black journal book (shown above) to jot down ideas/information from meetings with people, even if it was just a casual conversation at work. That is the only kind of information that goes into that journal…and I keep a separate one for personal items.

In the last year that I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen my memory of conversations and ideas improve. If I draft something really fantastic worthy of saving in digital format, I just “evernote it” and it becomes a searchable item in my Evernote account.

While I did dabble with note-taking on the iPad, I found that I disliked the experience. Far better to rely on pen and journal.

Some whom I interact with find it strange that a technology director is resorting to paper and pen, but it’s an opportunity to share the research…and I don’t find myself forgetting stuff as much as I did when I logged my notes in a digital device.


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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