Why Paper Note-Taking is Still Better for School Than iPad Notes


In the technological age, many things were converted from analog to digital. One of them is note-taking. Now, people can use their tablet PCs to write down notes instead of just typing them on laptops.

There is a debate on whether iPad note-taking is better than paper note-taking. Granted, both methods of note-taking have their own merits. They can accommodate the different needs of different people.

But at the end of the day, nothing beats analog note-taking.

Why Students Like Digital Notes

If you check YouTube for study note-taking tips, many of the videos show students who use iPads or other tablet devices to take notes. Some students use their computers to type down letters during their lectures instead of writing them down.

Students love using iPads for note-taking because of convenience. A student can have all their notes for all their subjects in a single place. So they don’t have to carry a lot of notebooks to school. They can also easily annotate articles and course handouts on their iPads. Students also don’t need to carry around too many tools, such as pens, highlighters, etc., if they use iPads for note-taking.

In addition, since an iPad is a pocket computer, a student can do more than take notes on it.

Why Paper Note-taking is Still Better

Despite all of these benefits, paper note-taking still trumps iPad note-taking in many ways.

No Steep Learning Curve

Writing on a computer tablet has a learning curve. In the case of an iPad, the Apple Pencil is heavier than analog writing tools, such as ballpoint pens and gel pens. The Apple Pencil can be slippery to hold. Its tip doesn’t have enough friction on the iPad screen. So writing can be difficult and quickly tire your hand.

Meanwhile, there’s no steep learning curve when using pen and paper. Most if not all people learned how to write with these tools when they were young. You can also choose any writing tool you want so that you can find the one that feels balanced in your hand. This helps you prevent muscle strain on your hand.

No Distractions

An iPad is an added screen that offers distractions during class. For example, a student enrolled in an online charter school will take their classes in front of a computer. If the student writes notes using an iPad, they may find themselves distracted by the notifications and mobile applications on that iPad and miss important information during their online class.

In contrast, paper note-taking is not distracting so that students can stay focused during their lectures. It’s also worth noting that, according to the BBC, students who take notes using pen and paper are more engaged during a lesson. Students tend to summarize information to make their messages more concise and easy to process when writing by hand.

Write With Your Favorite Tools

Paper note-taking can offer personal satisfaction as it allows you to use your favorite writing tools. For example, you can use a combination of your favorite paper, pens, and highlighters. And as a result, you’ll find more joy in writing during lectures.

Sometimes, listening to long lectures can be tiring. But if the tools you use to write down notes can spark some joy, you’ll be able to enjoy these lectures more.

Low Upfront Cost

Lastly, analog note-taking has a low, upfront cost. iPads are quite expensive. Their prices depend on their models and additional accessories (e.g., a case, a screen protector, etc.). The regular iPad is priced at around $329, while the higher-end model iPad Pro price starts at $799. These prices don’t include the tools that will allow you to take notes, such as the Apple Pencil and an external keyboard.

On the other hand, with analog note-taking, you only need a pen and a notebook. You can get additional accessories, such as a highlighter, a pencil, a marker, and so on. But even if you do get all of them, the total price will likely still be lower than an iPad and its accessories.

No Battery Needed

An iPad might run out of power during a lecture. So you might not be able to complete your notes if you don’t have a power source nearby, such as a wall outlet or a portable power bank. You won’t have this problem if you use analog writing tools.

iPad note-taking has its pros. But the advantages of paper note-taking seem to be much more significant for this method to be ignored.