Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Downside with Snapnotes  – School Focus

As I sat in a lecture attended by all first-year college students at our school, I seen the size of a troubling development: the rise of “snapnotes.” Snapnotes are what I wish to name when college students “take notes” by snapping an image of a PowerPoint slide on their telephone. Whereas the development has been round for the reason that introduction of telephones with affordable cameras and information storage, anecdotally, the COVID-19 pandemic has made this apply way more widespread.  

The detrimental outcomes of this apply for college students couldn’t come at a worse time, with disruptions to center and highschool courses because of the pandemic leaving some college students underprepared for college-level coursework. Even earlier than the pandemic, college students typically arrived at school with out studying methods to take efficient notes. So as to add ineffective notetaking to decrease content material data, fewer alternatives to apply abilities in writing and talking, and, for some, a return to in-person studying after prolonged time spent in on-line lecture rooms, presents an excellent better hindrance to scholar studying and success.  

Thankfully, instructors have the flexibility to intervene and use this as an academic alternative for college students to place themselves for better success. 

The origins of the issue 

To get a way of why this drawback was accelerating, I spoke informally with a number of college students at my school about their notetaking methods. Unsurprisingly, notetaking methods diverse extensively, and principally consisted of doing no matter acquired them by highschool. In years of working with new college students, that is the most typical “technique” that college students declare when referring to notetaking: It’s one thing I’ve by no means actually thought of. 

Subsequent, I requested about notetaking through telephones. Right here, too, there have been a couple of surprises. The commonest cause given was that it was simpler than taking notes on paper. Some pointed to the truth that their handwriting was poor; some mentioned that lecturers coated content material too rapidly for them to put in writing down notes; others mentioned they didn’t need to carry a pocket book with them to class. Naturally, college students should contemplate methods to make the very best use of their restricted time and vitality, and for some college students, this appeared like an affordable tradeoff. 

I then requested after they began taking notes this fashion. Almost all college students pointed to on-line studying throughout the pandemic.  

Many excessive colleges don’t allow college students to make use of their telephones throughout class. With distant studying, lecturers had been unable to observe mobile phone use. If a scholar was already multitasking on their telephone throughout a lesson, it made sense to seize a fast image if a trainer offered one thing they anticipated they wanted to know. Furthermore, many college students accomplished their on-line work straight from their telephone to start with, so grabbing a screenshot (or a Print Display screen picture on a laptop computer) appeared simpler than juggling a small system and a big pocket book, particularly if they didn’t have a correct desk to work from. 

Lastly, I requested whether or not they thought this technique of notetaking was efficient. Reactions had been combined. Some college students acknowledged it appeared like taking the “simple method out,” whereas others mentioned it was higher than not taking notes in any respect. 

Why it’s drawback 

My impetus for asking about notetaking is, after all, as a result of I see snapnotes as an issue. There may be not unanimous assist for this place. Some have instructed that snapnotes could improve the method of studying, participating college students in a real-world ability that’s frequent even amongst adults. (Admittedly, I additionally take footage of merchandise at a retailer if I need to examine costs or keep in mind the model of mulch that I bought for my yard.) But, even those that advocate for snapnotes acknowledge that college students typically wouldn’t have a scientific course of for data retrieval from a digital camera roll stuffed with notes interspersed with footage of mates or their pets. 

Along with the sensible considerations about the usage of footage, analysis means that taking notes by hand tends to be simpler than digital notes. This, too, is a matter of debate (e.g. Bui, Myerson, and Hale 2013), though most comparisons are between college students writing notes themselves on paper or on a laptop computer, reasonably than merely taking an image.  

For instance, I had my college students learn the article “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard,” which makes the case that taking notes on a laptop computer results in shallower data processing than longhand notetaking. Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) discover that digital word takers usually tend to transcribe a lecture verbatim reasonably than taking notes in their very own phrases and with the suitable context. It’s exhausting to think about that snapnotes offers a chance for college students to course of data or generate the suitable context any greater than a laptop computer. For a lot of instructors, what they educate is just not restricted to what’s offered on a PowerPoint slide. That is helpful content material that’s misplaced in a snapnote. 

Except for the tutorial results on data retrieval and knowledge processing, there are affordable considerations in regards to the impact snapnotes have on the classroom surroundings. Some professors already ban telephones from their lecture rooms. Whereas I do enable some telephone utilization in my class, I readily admit that they’ll function a distraction for college students.  

Furthermore, there could also be privateness considerations for instructors or for different college students who could not need to be photographed in a scholar’s class notes. Certainly, some states or colleges have rules on recording within the classroom, which typically extends to nonetheless images. Within the present politically charged surroundings, a photograph with out context in an training setting could have detrimental penalties for a scholar or teacher. Except said explicitly, it’s unlikely that college students taking notes on their telephones are conscious of the authorized context of recording classroom actions. 

Learn how to resolve the issue 

Importantly, not one of the considerations with snapnotes are in charge college students for taking notes this fashion. As famous beforehand, college students have had little event to think about methods to take notes successfully, and even earlier than the pandemic or the ubiquity of cell telephones, college students already confronted challenges with efficient notetaking. Fairly, the rise of snapnotes serves as a terrific alternative for instructors to supply college students with a few of the first actual steering on methods to take notes successfully. 

What may this intervention appear like?  

In a few of my courses, notably research-intensive courses, I attempt to mannequin for college students the ways in which I construction data or take notes. Studying methods to distill data is an acquired ability that instructors have spent considerably extra time practising. Offering recommendations on methods to take notes can assist college students save time and be taught extra successfully, which many college students are receptive to. 

In different courses or particular person conversations, I discuss with college students about what the analysis reveals about notetaking and the advantages of taking notes by hand. As digital notetaking expertise advances, we’d additionally focus on methods to take notes whereas retaining the advantages of longhand notetaking, similar to not writing down a lecture verbatim or turning off digital notifications throughout class. These interventions could also be particularly important in first-year expertise programs or different programs with a lot of first-year college students. 

Inevitably, some college students nonetheless select to make use of snapnotes. As satisfied as I’m that there are different, simpler methods to be taught, I enable them to make that (knowledgeable) alternative themselves. Studying methods to take notes is a course of and academic ability that I’m studying to today. 

Except for the notes that I took within the lecture I attended with our first-year college students, a significant takeaway for me was that this second offered a important alternative to show college students methods to be efficient learners. Letting go of the telephone and snapnotes could also be one small step in the direction of enhancing our college students’ success (Lepp, Barkley, and Karpinski 2014). 

Andre P. Audette is an affiliate professor of political science at Monmouth Faculty. His pedagogical analysis pursuits embody scholar motivation, energetic studying methods, and selling important pondering.  


Bui, Dung C., Joel Myerson, and Sandra Hale. 2013. “Observe-taking with Computer systems: Exploring Various Methods for Improved Recall.” Journal of Instructional Psychology 105(2): 299-309. 

Lapp, Andrew, Jacob E. Barkley, and Aryn C. Karpinski. 2014. “The Relationship Between Cell Telephone Use, Educational Efficiency, Anxiousness, and Satisfaction with Life in Faculty College students.” Computer systems in Human Habits 31: 343-350. 

Mueller, Pam. A., and Daniel M. Oppenheimer. 2014. “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Benefits of Longhand Over Laptop computer Observe Taking.” Psychological Science 25(6): 1159-1168. 

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