“Do you love to write?
Do you prefer typing rather than writing?
Well, I might sound like a bride standing on the altar in front of my groom. The priest asks me the most obvious questions and I nonchalantly reply, “Yes, I do.”
Students and tech savvy people are also most likely to say ‘Yes’ to typing in the similar fashion.
You enter a lecture hall and are thrilled to witness herds of students immersed in front of their laptop screens and fingers tapping at the keyboards. Technology has ‘unfortunately’ taken over our classrooms as well.
(You will know why I used the term unfortunately soon.)
Even though digital technology has its own perks, it might not be doing so good for us as learners.
Digital writing perks – Is it worth it?
Today, you can access information through the Internet and simultaneously use it for your college projects and dissertations with just a single mouse click. Many universities are resorting to online exams taking digital studying to the next level.
What more, you can type in your notes and save it on your laptop and refer to it before your exams.
Taking notes on laptops rather than writing notes is being practiced widely among students and universities seem to encourage it as well. You can type faster any day than you can write.
Writing becomes tiresome after a while. You cannot cope up with the speed of the lecture and tend to miss out details. Then why question the laptop’s efficiency?
My idea to write an article on this subject struck upon me first when my colleague recently suggested me to pick up a notebook and a pen instead of my laptop to the meeting room. When I asked the reason, she replied, “You tend to remember your points better if you take it down by hand.”
I knew the pen worked for me; however, I wanted to know whether it had any scientific basis. Therefore, I looked it up and came across these studies and research by some notable psychologists, Pan Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, from Princeton University and California University, among others. They conducted studies among group of students who were asked to carry the task of typing and writing respectively to take notes before sitting for the test. 
The research revealed that students who took down notes by hand performed well in both factual and conceptual questions in the exams. However, those who took notes on the laptop performed significantly worse on conceptual questions.
The Pen vs the Keyboard
Perhaps, going old school may not be a bad idea after all. Let me tell you why.
- When you write, your hands send feedback signals to the brain, which makes it easier to recall the information when required. Our brain records our hand movements when we write. This supports the brain in visually recognizing the letters.
- You also tend to use your cognitive skills effectively while writing. Since it is not possible for you to jot down every word of the lecture, you tend to listen more and understand and write down those points which you think are important. This in turn helps you to retain what you write effectively.
- Typing notes in the laptop makes you more robotic in nature. You mindlessly take in notes without even trying to understand what you are writing and focus more on filling your page with every word.
Hey I got a digital pen!
Well, after giving you enough reasons, you might still be looking for other options to make your life easier, right? And this relentless search has offered us digital pens!
College students, entrepreneurs and journalists alike are going crazy for these pens.
All right, they may appear like magic pens converting your handwritten notes to digital text and, you can import it to your laptop or smartphone for back up. However, their accuracy to recognize text is not 100%. I wonder if it would be able to recognize a doctor’s writing, right?
Also, the research says that our brain recognizes our handwriting patterns because of which we are able to learn and recall things better. Digital pens convert our handwritten text into digital font which means we lose our original writing. So, it means that they are no better than typing in the keyboard.
Plus, you need specialized paper to write on it. It won’t work on ordinary paper. And what more, its way more expensive than a normal pen..
All these makes me go back to my former loyal partner, my dear hands!
Stay creative with your hands
Digital studying is making us increasingly dependent on our screens. Unknowingly it is impairing our cognitive abilities, which if exercised properly, boost our learning and analytical capabilities.
I think laptops have their other benefits apart from just typing in notes. You can use it effectively for making presentations and doing online research for course related information.
Writing is a natural activity and an art in itself. It is an effective exercise for the brain. It prevents you from getting distracted and stay focused. Keep the art alive. It will help you learn better and write even better.
And since, we are a step ahead of on our path to genius, why not take a few more? Read, 3 Brilliant Tricks to Brush-up Your Brain.
References  Fu YF, & Wang FC (1980). [Effects of norepinephrine on the activity of Na+-K+-ATPase and level of cAMP in rabbit myocardium and the antagonistic effects of insulin (author's transl)]. Zhonghua xin xue guan bing za zhi, 8 (3), 221-2 PMID: 6273095. ^Back to Top^