Write notes on paper, computer or just listen?

The amount of curriculum can be enormous during studies, and it´s impossible to remember everything. I know the people with the best memory in the world, and no one can remember everything. Therefore, I try to find out what´s most important. I consider lectures and teaching as tips from an expert: the lecturer has limited time and will usually focus on what´s most important. Additionally, the lecturer is often the person who makes the exam and the tests. What the lecturer says can be very valuable.  The question is: is it best to just listen, writing down on the computer, or in the notebook?

Just listening has its limitations. First of all, it´s easy to dream yourself away when you don´t have to concentrate about writing. When you write, you must think the entire time: what is the most important of what was just said? You don´t get the same level of consideration by just listening. No matter how good your memory is, it´s good to have notes you can look at after class. Just listening can work out well, but at the very second there is too much information, a lot of if it may get lost. Good notes help you to think and sort out what was important after the lecture, especially because you can look at what you have written, right in front of you.

I and other participants in the World Championship of Memory can remember packs of cards in under a minute. Skills like these are useful when you study, and at work too. But there is no memory technique so good that you´ll never need to repeat. Even the best quiz masters needs to repeat his geography knowledge. So when you´re first at a lecture, you can just as well take notes there and then. So you can go back in your notes when you need it. Some students base themselves on the lecture´s power-point presentation, which often is put online after class. I am quite skeptical to this, because your own notes often are best for your memory. They are your words, formulated in your way. Your own notes are often easier to remember than some sterile power point with an occasional illustration. Besides, power points are often made for the lecturer to remember what he´s going to say, not for you to remember more easily.

How much that should be noted, depends. A good lecturer focuses on the most important subjects of the curriculum. The selection he has made, makes the job easier for you. Sometimes most of the lecture is worth noting, other times it´s longer between valuable information.  Personally, I note a lot. But there is no definitive, use common sense.

A benefit with using a computer is that you have everything saved in one place. Some people types faster on a pc, and it is possible to edit without using a rubber. But the lecturer rarely presents stuff messy. The knowledge is quite pre-edited. I have problems seeing many benefits with computers. On paper, you have greater flexibility. You can draw, set lines and arrows any way you want. Researching also shows that noting by hand is easier to remember. Scientist Anne Mangen by the reading center UiS says that the brain gains best by reading on paper. The research also shows that we learn faster when the writing happens by hand. Hand drawn letters give a firmer impression than on a keyboard, a pressure movement which is similar to all letters. This argument alone is enough for me to prefer paper over pc in study situations.

Some people take up the lectures on tape. This might work, but either way I recommend to note something. In this way you´ll get an overview. “Memory- wise” I recommend you to go on lectures, what ever it takes. Because there you´ll get tips from an expert in the subject. And take notes on paper.