1. Ready for some push back? We can’t create deeper learning or connections between what we know and what we need/want to know without that background knowledge already being in place. A simple example would be you cannot orally communicate very well if you never learned to speak.

    I hate the term but ‘research shows’ that note-taking is a better way to remember than listening. Of course if you do other things such as draw pictures, spend time reflecting, and/or sharing what you took notes on with others will increase retention greatly. This would lead me to the conclusion that actually writing/drawing/sharing is much more valuable than taking a picture of the notes.

    On another note, I am looking forward to hearing you speak at METC in February.

  2. Leanne Beal

    I am constantly challenged by parents and staff who quote the ‘note taking with a pen is better’ research. I am heartened to read your response, George, as it mirrors my reply. I absolutely believe it is not the act of ‘taking notes’ as such, that is valuable to learning; rather, it is how students ENGAGE and INTERACT with the knowledge/ notes that leads to real understanding. (Notes, be they typed, handwritten, or photographed are irrelevant if nothing happens after they are completed). Whether they reflect and share ideas in a blog, class discussion, annotate a drawing, peer teach, go hi-tech or low-tech, it doesn’t matter- as long as they engage. Some people can do that whilst writing notes, but for others it happens afterwards when they take time to revisit and review.

  3. Paul Huebl

    Timely post George. We were chatting about this on our staff room last week as the kids with tablets are increasingly doing this.

    There’s obviously a distinction between taking a photo to replace taking notes and to simply capture the information. If that is note taking its the equivalent of highlighting the entire page.

    I’m increasingly thinking of ICT in terms of cognitive enhancers vs cognitive replacers. If the goal is to take notes and in doing so establish connections then the photo is a disservice and counterintuitive. But if the photo is to get a record of a quote or a diagram that can then be used for further reflection them Ok.

    Food for thought.

  4. […] “Although this seems like a no-brainer as a method to quickly capture information, there is also the challenge that if you want to “retain” information, writing it down is a much better method.  The ability to simply obtain information and recite it back is not necessarily learning as much as it is regurgitation.  I might better be able to retain the facts shared, but it doesn’t mean I understand them.  On the other hand, if I am taking a picture, putting it in my camera roll and doing nothing with that information, then really, what good is that?”To read further please click here: https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5505 […]

  5. Hey George,
    When I wrote about this image almost a year ago, (yes it’s been around as you mentioned – I linked the post to my name above), I said this:
    “Take notes or create notes? There are times when copying notes might be a useful thing to do, but for the most part, that is a rather passive way to learn information (unless you use specific strategies to help you take those notes). Students creating the notes, or doing a task whereby the notes are used to help construct a learning experience, is far better than copying words onto a piece of paper, or into a digital document, or for that matter, taking a photo of the information.”
    Still, I can’t help but think that images like this perpetuate technology as an add-on rather than something transformative. I have a phone photo album filled with screen shots and pics of images to spur my memory and to get me thinking and reflecting (for future blog posts)… I’m about to pay for Evernote to take full advantage of that tool to do the same in a better way. But it really isn’t about the tool as much as how we use it to engage our learning. Thanks for bringing this conversation back up, it’s worth another visit!

  6. Great post George. I could not agree more. There is far too much professional development which is mere consumption. I understand, as Will Chamberlain states, that this may have a place. I just intrigued how we go further? Wonder what strategies you have used to engage those within your presentations? I have tried adding a provocation via Verso, providing a Padlet to collect ideas, collecting thoughts and ideas using Google Forms and creating a collaborative ‘book’ using Google Sheets. Is there anything that you would add?

  7. Kelley Jones

    I like to take notes, make scetches, and do text art when I attend workshops. (For the past four years, I’ve done this using my iPad and stylus). My notes are not very helpful to others, becuase they are mainly my reflections, connections, and memory-enhancers. I often revisit, and add in ither thoughts, etc.

    One beef I have is when presenters announce to the group something like: “Oh, please don’t take notes – just give us your email address and we’ll share the presentation with you.” I need to take notes in order to focus better. If I stop writing or doodling, I stop thinking deeply about the material.

    • George

      That totally makes sense…I usually blog something after I listen. It helps me to go deeper into the content. The slides are of little use to me until I have a chance to explore. Thanks for your comment!

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