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A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop

Students who used longhand remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material


This article came by way of Adriane Hunt on LinkedIn. While I understand the article and its findings, I don’t think it’s a complete report, because the study is only taking into account typical students, and not including special needs students with learning disabilities. I understand the point they make that handwriting versus typing using different parts of the cognitive brain, and typing tends to be more writing what a professor says verbatim for later retention (although this study says it isn’t so), for people like me, even handwriting was still me trying to get as much written verbatim as possible. My cognitive brain, like many who are ADHD or have Aspeger’s or similar issues, listening then condensing the thought into something smaller but tangible, then writing it down is a more complicated process than for a typical student. By the time that is all done, the instructor has moved on to the next point, or is even three or four points ahead. Typing on laptops or tablets makes it much easier to facilitate this process. 


Even today, I was following some keynote speeches at the IDW conference via video, and trying to tweet the information. This is something I’ve been working on for years, but it’s the same concept, and it’s not easy to do at all, especially if the slides aren’t up for long to grasp what was said quickly! 


Perhaps a reevaluation of this study is in order, to look at the full benefit. The researchers should look at both students–abled and learning disabled, and professionals who have to take notes during meetings. 


I still take handwritten notes during meetings, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not that easy to do, and retain all the key points from the banter happening at breakneck speed. 


See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications


Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog,, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog. All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.

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