The Pros and Cons of Digital Notetaking

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Charlotte Fieffe
A tablet with a smart pen next to a spiral notebook opened to a blank page with a pencil on top.

Pencil and paper, the most iconic duo, have been my go-to tools for the majority of my school life. But with the rise of technology in the classroom, thanks to shareable files, folders, and notes, I decided to make a switch to digital notetaking in my sophomore year of university. Examples of digital notetaking tools include tablets or digital notebooks and smart pens. Making the switch to digital notetaking came with some pros and cons. Here are a few to consider before making the switch for yourself.


Third-party apps: I immediately noticed that I would need to download and/or purchase one or more apps to even make my digital notetaking dreams a reality. I knew what I was getting myself into in the first place, due to extensive research, so I wasn’t taken aback by this concept. But I do urge others who are considering spending a measurable amount of cash on a digital device for notetaking to consider other unmentioned costs that come with it. There are many different apps to consider when looking at digital notetaking, and it all depends on your preferences and needs. Look at your course work and learning style when shopping for notetaking apps, so that they are the best fit for you. I found looking up tutorials and videos for different apps to be the most helpful for me to discern my needs and making the best selection.

Affordability: Choosing the right device for your digital notetaking journey is important, since you are the one who will be using it! However, this will take some extensive research on your end. Look for device brands and/or stores that offer student discounts. Also consider your after-college needs from this device; for example, will you be able to continue to have a use for this device after graduation? For me, I knew that I would want continue with digital notetaking upon entering medical school.

Compatibility: When I first received my device, I was a little apprehensive about the compatibility when it came to other devices (aka my phone). I wasn’t sure where everything was or how to use it and I was considered returning it (I know!). Having different brand devices can make it difficult to successfully set up apps and access between devices. But it takes time! Take the time to get used to the device, especially if it’s a device that you don’t really know. Watch tutorials and step-by-step videos, get used to the feeling of writing with the device and where to access files and whatever you will need.


Everything in one place: I enjoy having files, notes, textbooks, apps, and photos from class all in one place. As a commuter student I end up carrying a lot of “unnecessary” things. Having everything all in one place not only lessens the load but makes everything easily accessible so I can access everything I need for a class on one single device. Accessibility means shareability, so if a classmate missed a lecture or needs a recording, I can easily send them a file without that many issues.

Readability: I noticed that when writing with regular pen and paper, my notes were either too scrawny, smeared, or completely illegible. Writing digitally helps this problem immensely. With different notetaking apps I am also able to record the lecture while simultaneously taking notes and go back through my notes to see exactly what I wrote. I also noticed that my writing was much neater and easier to read when I transcribed things digitally.

Manageable multitasking: Although multitasking is deemed the most heinous of heinous of study tips, having a device that can split screen and allow me to multitask is extremely beneficial and time efficient. I am able to watch a lecture and write my notes side by side, making it more efficient and bearable since it’s all on one device.

Digital notetaking definitely was a transition but so worth it in the end. So far, I have enjoyed the pros way more than I have suffered the cons. A lot of people feel very apprehensive since it is still so new in the world of academia. Explore digital notetaking options and consider your own learning style. You may find it to be just as useful as I have.

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