As devices continue to permeate classrooms across the country, we must consider the impact they are making on learning. Of course that's the very reason we want to integrate technology. We want to enhance learning and give students an opportunity to use technology in appropriate and acceptable ways. At first glance, many would say the technology our students use help learning. How many times have you heard the phrase "That's just incredible what our kids can do with technology." Too often we assume that using technology automatically makes our students more productive and increases their understanding. As an example, many teachers may ask students to type their notes like they use to write their notes in class. There is certainly some benefits of doing this and we are thankful that students are using the devices that cost so much but is it truly impacting their learning? Though we hope students are spending less and less time listening to lectures and taking notes, the fact is that they still do.
A few studies have been conducted comparing writing notes vs typing notes on a laptop. One of the most well known is from Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer. This post from Scientific American explains the idea in detail. Essentially, educators are challenged with teaching our students that simply typing the notes does not mean they have a deep conceptional understanding of the material. If we want students to truly understand the material, draw conclusions, make connections, apply concepts, and evaluate the evidence, we need to encourage them when they type notes to take it further.
Here are some ideas of how student digital notes can be improved and hopefully increase comprehension. Share your ideas in the comments section.
- Google Docs- Assign students to share notes from Google Docs and then add comments to each others, ask questions, etc
- Diagrams- Required students to take notes but then put them in a diagram with tools such as Google Drawings, Draw.io or Gliffy.
- MindMapping- Students can explain concepts using MindMup or Bubbl.us
- Sketchnoting- If students are using tablets such as iPads consider having them sketchnote using apps such as Paper 53, Skitch, or Flipink