Arcann
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Hi Everyone,

Going into Uni this year, i've been pondering whether to use a 2 in 1 Laptop, or pen and paper to take my notes in class.

I have read a lot about handwritten note taking being the easier way to learn, and so have been thinking about using onenote as my primary place of writing, to keep it all online, decrease clutter, and still be able to write equations or whatever it may be via a stylus.

If anyone has any experience working in this way, or any reason why simply using pen and paper is better, id appreciate hearing plenty of opinions.
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bluebeetle
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(Original post by Arcann)
Hi Everyone,

Going into Uni this year, i've been pondering whether to use a 2 in 1 Laptop, or pen and paper to take my notes in class.

I have read a lot about handwritten note taking being the easier way to learn, and so have been thinking about using onenote as my primary place of writing, to keep it all online, decrease clutter, and still be able to write equations or whatever it may be via a stylus.

If anyone has any experience working in this way, or any reason why simply using pen and paper is better, id appreciate hearing plenty of opinions.
I think either method is fine really. It sounds like you're doing a course with some maths elements, and you'll probably find that in any maths-focused modules, the vast majority of students will just be using pen and paper. However, so long as you have the means to write equations without having to awkwardly type them, there's no reason it has to be with a literal pen and paper.

If it were me though, I'd probably still stick to pen and paper for any tutorials where you're doing lots of working out, just because I think when doing that on a screen, you can't fit quite as much on 'a page' as you would when doing it on actual paper. To each their own though, that may be different for you!
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Arcann
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Environmental impact and clutter are two of the issues I have with carrying more paperweight, and battery is i think the main thing i would be worried about when it comes to a laptop. I think what i need to do is see how I feel writing on a touchscreen with a stylus and decide from there, as having everything there in one place and the idea of being able to whip out my phone and look over my notes on the train or where ever is rather appealing.

Maybe a power bank could be the solution to the battery issue although that would somewhat defeat the object of less clutter.
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Arcann
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(Original post by bluebeetle)
I think either method is fine really. It sounds like you're doing a course with some maths elements, and you'll probably find that in any maths-focused modules, the vast majority of students will just be using pen and paper. However, so long as you have the means to write equations without having to awkwardly type them, there's no reason it has to be with a literal pen and paper.

If it were me though, I'd probably still stick to pen and paper for any tutorials where you're doing lots of working out, just because I think when doing that on a screen, you can't fit quite as much on 'a page' as you would when doing it on actual paper. To each their own though, that may be different for you!
Im going into engineering so yes being able to write is really essential!! Yes that is what it seems a lot do but myself and a couple course mates have been discussing options, some going to the iPad route with one note whereas if i was to go the tech route id rather have a proper laptop for any proper typing that might need doing.

Think ill get my hands on a touchscreen laptop and see how it feels writing on then!!
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blackugo
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Surface pro>>>
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Arcann
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(Original post by blackugo)
Surface pro>>>
Which version you using??
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blackugo
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(Original post by Arcann)
Which version you using??
5th generation. I don't think there are any benefits to using paper aside for preference and lack of power. It will just be more difficult manage.

Once you optimise your OneNote note taking it will be far better than pen or paper. And idk if you are already at this stage but once you have been using it for long enough your writing on the 2in1 is better than on paper. To make it feel more "natural" you could get a matte screen protector of if you have a surface pro the rubber tip is enough. Then if you're using sections and section groups you can organise your notes so easily. You're doing engineering like me so you have the maths assistant. You don't have to carry a textbook either and you can paste past papers into one note. And if you get into a routine of just plugging it in when you go to be like you would brush your teeth before you go to bed it's not a problem. I always have mine in power saving mode when I'm out or away from a charger as well to make sure it will last the day.

You could always print your notes out if you decide you want to go back to paper and an archaic folder. I wouldn't do more than keep a small note book personally.
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username5383500
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(Original post by blackugo)
I don't think there are any benefits to using paper aside for preference and lack of power. It will just be more difficult manage.
Counterintuitively, the difficulty in managing is in itself a benefit for some people. Not to say this is always the case, but the convenience that digital notes offer can sometimes make people lazy. This is typically more of a problem for people who type notes, but when everything is searchable it can be tempting to just dump the notes and forget about them.

I personally prefer handwriting on paper to handwriting on a display. As you say, that's a preference thing. For me the texture is better, it's more precise, I much prefer holding a pen/pencil to my Surface Pen, etc. But by far the biggest benefit was that I'd write my draft notes in class, then rewrite them again in proper form after class. It's been suggested there are benefits to this "reviewing your notes" approach and it's not something I'm certain would have happened if I'd handwritten notes digitally.

Of course that's just what worked for me, and someone else might want to consider other factors such as the environmental impact of handwritten notes. But I find if nothing else, the fact you'll end up having lots of paper floating around is a good motivator to manage and review notes better. Some people may even find that their notes become more concise, specifically because they want to reduce how much paper they're using. Which wouldn't be a concern when writing digital notes for which storage is effectively unlimited.

So I think there definitely are benefits besides personal preference and not needing power to handwriting on paper.
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blackugo
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(Original post by AcseI)
Counterintuitively, the difficulty in managing is in itself a benefit for some people. Not to say this is always the case, but the convenience that digital notes offer can sometimes make people lazy. This is typically more of a problem for people who type notes, but when everything is searchable it can be tempting to just dump the notes and forget about them.

I personally prefer handwriting on paper to handwriting on a display. As you say, that's a preference thing. For me the texture is better, it's more precise, I much prefer holding a pen/pencil to my Surface Pen, etc. But by far the biggest benefit was that I'd write my draft notes in class, then rewrite them again in proper form after class. It's been suggested there are benefits to this "reviewing your notes" approach and it's not something I'm certain would have happened if I'd handwritten notes digitally.

Of course that's just what worked for me, and someone else might want to consider other factors such as the environmental impact of handwritten notes. But I find if nothing else, the fact you'll end up having lots of paper floating around is a good motivator to manage and review notes better. Some people may even find that their notes become more concise, specifically because they want to reduce how much paper they're using. Which wouldn't be a concern when writing digital notes for which storage is effectively unlimited.

So I think there definitely are benefits besides personal preference and not needing power to handwriting on paper.
I disagree. I think that making it easier for yourself to be organised will encourage you to do so. It's like with building good habits and getting rid of bad ones. You should make it easier for you to do good habits i.e studying and more difficult to do the bad ones. Digital note-taking makes it easier for you to take notes and stay organised. With traditional note-taking, it's much easier to just dump notes in your bag or to lose them or for them to get damaged. Then it is more difficult to collect them and organise because they could be anywhere, they could be damaged, you might have to buy a new folder etc and it just generally requires more physical work. When a task is more difficult we are less inclined to take it one because we generally like the path of least resistance.

I'm sure if we had grown up taking notes digitally nobody would switch to paper. I feel like it is just status quo bias that is stopping you from changing. You've already become comfortable with writing on paper and making the change just doesn't feel right. We've been trained nice primary school to use pen and paper. But in the years to come I see fewer and fewer people using paper. I've been using a drawing tablet for years so I am more than comfortable using pen technology and it feels just as natural as writing on paper. And again there are matte screen protectors available that have texture which feels just like paper.

For precision, if you have a good quality device like the surface pro or iPad pro it is more than precise enough. You could easily take notes and rewrite them again on OneNote if you wanted to. I often go over my notes and make them look better and reorganise them (mostly for aesthetics). But reviewing notes is one of the least efficient ways of studying. There is a good deal of research that says questions and testing yourself are much better than re-reading or re-writing notes. You must've heard of active recall with the amount people have been going on about it.
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JOSH4598
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(Original post by blackugo)
I often go over my notes and make them look better and reorganise them (mostly for aesthetics). But reviewing notes is one of the least efficient ways of studying.
Personally, I feel reviewing your notes is one of the best ways of retaining the information. Re-writing the scribbles you make in lectures, validating what you've written with a little extra research and even expanding on what you've written helps consolidate the content far more than typing, clicking save and never going back to them till exams.Of course it's not a fool-proof method of revision, but certainly helps a great deal in my experience.
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username5383500
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(Original post by blackugo)
I disagree. I think that making it easier for yourself to be organised will encourage you to do so. It's like with building good habits and getting rid of bad ones. You should make it easier for you to do good habits i.e studying and more difficult to do the bad ones. Digital note-taking makes it easier for you to take notes and stay organised. With traditional note-taking, it's much easier to just dump notes in your bag or to lose them or for them to get damaged. Then it is more difficult to collect them and organise because they could be anywhere, they could be damaged, you might have to buy a new folder etc and it just generally requires more physical work. When a task is more difficult we are less inclined to take it one because we generally like the path of least resistance.
That's precisely why I said it's down to the individual. While one person might stuff the notes in their bag, another will rewrite them after class. This is less about agree/disagree and more me just describing what worked for me.

As you say, someone that writes paper notes might be inclined to dump them in a bag and forget about them. The same is true for people who take digital notes though, they save the file and never look at it again. The root issue here is the methodology, not the medium used to take notes.

(Original post by blackugo)
I'm sure if we had grown up taking notes digitally nobody would switch to paper. I feel like it is just status quo bias that is stopping you from changing. You've already become comfortable with writing on paper and making the change just doesn't feel right. We've been trained nice primary school to use pen and paper. But in the years to come I see fewer and fewer people using paper. I've been using a drawing tablet for years so I am more than comfortable using pen technology and it feels just as natural as writing on paper. And again there are matte screen protectors available that have texture which feels just like paper.
This fundementally comes down to the medium you prefer. I'll also note that for me, it has nothing to do with not wanting to change. I choose the most appropriate method and as a result have a mix of paper and digital notes.

I'll also throw out that I've used a range of touch screen technologies, from the Surface Pen to Wacom tablets to Samsung S Pens. I'm yet to find anything that feels the same as pen and pencil on paper. Again, that's personal preference. Some people absolutely love writing on screens and cannot stand pen and paper. I'm personally quite picky about the brand of pen and paper I have so take that as you will.

(Original post by blackugo)
But reviewing notes is one of the least efficient ways of studying. There is a good deal of research that says questions and testing yourself are much better than re-reading or re-writing notes. You must've heard of active recall with the amount people have been going on about it.
I never claimed that reviewing notes was an efficient method (and again, we're in the realms of personal preference here). I'm just saying that reviewing them (as a result of rewriting) is better than not reviewing them. And because I focused on the content of my notes rather than their presentation, I was inclined to review and rewrite my notes after classes. Ergo my method added an element of revision that might not have otherwise existed. While reviewing alone isn't a suitable method of revision, there is strong merit to reviewing your notes the day you've written them.

I'll reiterate that I'm not actively saying someone should or should not use pen and paper for the reasons I've described. I'm simply describing the methods that worked for me, and the impact that had.
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Arcann
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(Original post by AcseI)
Counterintuitively, the difficulty in managing is in itself a benefit for some people. Not to say this is always the case, but the convenience that digital notes offer can sometimes make people lazy. This is typically more of a problem for people who type notes, but when everything is searchable it can be tempting to just dump the notes and forget about them.

I personally prefer handwriting on paper to handwriting on a display. As you say, that's a preference thing. For me the texture is better, it's more precise, I much prefer holding a pen/pencil to my Surface Pen, etc. But by far the biggest benefit was that I'd write my draft notes in class, then rewrite them again in proper form after class. It's been suggested there are benefits to this "reviewing your notes" approach and it's not something I'm certain would have happened if I'd handwritten notes digitally.

Of course that's just what worked for me, and someone else might want to consider other factors such as the environmental impact of handwritten notes. But I find if nothing else, the fact you'll end up having lots of paper floating around is a good motivator to manage and review notes better. Some people may even find that their notes become more concise, specifically because they want to reduce how much paper they're using. Which wouldn't be a concern when writing digital notes for which storage is effectively unlimited.

So I think there definitely are benefits besides personal preference and not needing power to handwriting on paper.
Thanks for everyone's answers to what ill call part one yesterday!

After hearing many opinions I have decided to get some form of tablet or laptop when my study starts in a couple weeks, and use that alongside pen and paper and decide what i feel works best for me.

This leads me onto another question. I already own both a desktop and a laptop (t440s), and am unsure whether I should buy a tablet such as the Galaxy Tab A for around £150 and use that for anything handwritten and anything else my current laptop, or alternatively, sell my current laptop (would get somewhere in the region of £200) and buy a 2 in 1 laptop to do both up to say £600.

Essentially this question boils down to Laptop and Tablet, or 2 in 1 Laptop?

I see alot of people mentioning the Surface does it work well?

(Original post by blackugo)
5th generation. I don't think there are any benefits to using paper aside for preference and lack of power. It will just be more difficult manage.

Once you optimise your OneNote note taking it will be far better than pen or paper. And idk if you are already at this stage but once you have been using it for long enough your writing on the 2in1 is better than on paper. To make it feel more "natural" you could get a matte screen protector of if you have a surface pro the rubber tip is enough. Then if you're using sections and section groups you can organise your notes so easily. You're doing engineering like me so you have the maths assistant. You don't have to carry a textbook either and you can paste past papers into one note. And if you get into a routine of just plugging it in when you go to be like you would brush your teeth before you go to bed it's not a problem. I always have mine in power saving mode when I'm out or away from a charger as well to make sure it will last the day.

You could always print your notes out if you decide you want to go back to paper and an archaic folder. I wouldn't do more than keep a small note book personally.
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blackugo
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(Original post by Arcann)
Thanks for everyone's answers to what ill call part one yesterday!

After hearing many opinions I have decided to get some form of tablet or laptop when my study starts in a couple weeks, and use that alongside pen and paper and decide what i feel works best for me.

This leads me onto another question. I already own both a desktop and a laptop (t440s), and am unsure whether I should buy a tablet such as the Galaxy Tab A for around £150 and use that for anything handwritten and anything else my current laptop, or alternatively, sell my current laptop (would get somewhere in the region of £200) and buy a 2 in 1 laptop to do both up to say £600.

Essentially this question boils down to Laptop and Tablet, or 2 in 1 Laptop?

I see alot of people mentioning the Surface does it work well?
Yeah, it does work well. I think this is definitely down to your personal uses. Now that I am going to university I do wish I have bought 2 devices perhaps the surface book and go. I'm not sure whether I should take my PC but I want a more powerful device than my surface pro which I mainly bought for art, note-taking and basic computing outside the house I use my PC for video editing, 3d modelling, gaming etc. I would just go with whatever suits your workflow best. If you have a desktop and good laptop already you might as well go for a tablet because that will fill in the gap you are missing.
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blackugo
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(Original post by AcseI)
That's precisely why I said it's down to the individual. While one person might stuff the notes in their bag, another will rewrite them after class. This is less about agree/disagree and more me just describing what worked for me.

As you say, someone that writes paper notes might be inclined to dump them in a bag and forget about them. The same is true for people who take digital notes though, they save the file and never look at it again. The root issue here is the methodology, not the medium used to take notes.



This fundementally comes down to the medium you prefer. I'll also note that for me, it has nothing to do with not wanting to change. I choose the most appropriate method and as a result have a mix of paper and digital notes.

I'll also throw out that I've used a range of touch screen technologies, from the Surface Pen to Wacom tablets to Samsung S Pens. I'm yet to find anything that feels the same as pen and pencil on paper. Again, that's personal preference. Some people absolutely love writing on screens and cannot stand pen and paper. I'm personally quite picky about the brand of pen and paper I have so take that as you will.


I never claimed that reviewing notes was an efficient method (and again, we're in the realms of personal preference here). I'm just saying that reviewing them (as a result of rewriting) is better than not reviewing them. And because I focused on the content of my notes rather than their presentation, I was inclined to review and rewrite my notes after classes. Ergo my method added an element of revision that might not have otherwise existed. While reviewing alone isn't a suitable method of revision, there is strong merit to reviewing your notes the day you've written them.

I'll reiterate that I'm not actively saying someone should or should not use pen and paper for the reasons I've described. I'm simply describing the methods that worked for me, and the impact that had.
I know it is down to the individual preference but the point I was making is that it is from a practical standpoint better to take notes digitally. I don't get what you are saying about reviewing notes. It doesn't matter if you don't review notes if you are using better study techniques. And it will be much easier to find your notes in one note than it would be to find a sheet of paper that could have ended up anywhere which is the point I'm making. Never looking at your notes again is a personal choice but it is much easier to find your notes digitally which is why I think you saying you're less likely to review notes doesn't make sense. If anything it should be the other way round.
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username5383500
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(Original post by Arcann)
Essentially this question boils down to Laptop and Tablet, or 2 in 1 Laptop?
If you had a 2 in 1 laptop to write notes on, would you be the sort of person to hold the laptop up or lay it on a desk like a notebook? Because IDK if you've ever held a laptop up for an extended period of time, but after a while it becomes incredibly uncomfortable to hold in tablet mode.

Of course the flip side here is that if you need to take both the tablet (for writing notes) and your laptop (for class), your bag might be rather heavy.

IMO the Surface Pro is the best overall balance, and the only device that does tablet and laptop modes well. 2 in 1 laptops are better at being laptops, but the tablet experience can be hit and miss. The more you want to hold the 2 in 1 up like a tablet, the worse the experience becomes. Pure tablets on the other hand are lighter, but tend to make poor replacements for laptops and as a result you'd be relegated to carrying both around if you needed both.

The Surface Pro is light enough to be a good tablet, put since it still runs Windows and the keyboard isn't awful can be used as a laptop replacement. I normally wouldn't recommend one as a primary device, but given that you've got a desktop too it'd be the optimal choice IMO. That said, they still come with downsides. Battery life won't be as good as a full sized laptop for example.

No matter what you choose, there are tradeoffs. It comes down to which tradeoff you'd like to make. Lighter bag, better experience as a tablet/laptop, etc.
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username5383500
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(Original post by blackugo)
I know it is down to the individual preference but the point I was making is that it is from a practical standpoint better to take notes digitally.
This depends entirely on your definition of practical though. There are practical benefits (e.g. searching and folder structures) and there are practical drawbacks (e.g. needing to charge the device and carry it around with you). It's never as cut and dry as "one method will always be more practical than another".

(Original post by blackugo)
I don't get what you are saying about reviewing notes. It doesn't matter if you don't review notes if you are using better study techniques.
I'm literally not comparing it to better techniques. I'm just saying that doing something is better than doing nothing. Reviewing my notes after a class to rewrite them (for which there is research that supports the benefits of reviewing notes within 24 hours) is better than not reviewing them at all.

This is going rather off topic now, but revision is not a simple matter of "if I used X method, I don't need to use Y". Revision is an additive process and some people will find that reviewing their notes in tandem with using other techniques will yield better results than just using those other techniques. Some people might see no benefit in reviewing. And others might find reviewing effective enough to not need other methods. It's up to the individual to decide what works for them.

In my personal experience, the review process was beneficial to me. And that review process came about as a result of handwriting notes on paper. This is not an active recommendation to do what I did, just an example to show how I benefited from using paper in a way that wasn't personal preference or lack of power (the points your originally made). This is literally just me anecdotally describing a benefit I observed since you said you didn't think there were other benefits.
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blackugo
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(Original post by AcseI)
This depends entirely on your definition of practical though. There are practical benefits (e.g. searching and folder structures) and there are practical drawbacks (e.g. needing to charge the device and carry it around with you). It's never as cut and dry as "one method will always be more practical than another".
I already talked about charging your device. If you plug it in when you go to bed it should easily last you the day if you get a device with decent battery life. That's a small habit you have to build but it is much less difficult than building a habit of organising all your paper because charging a device is fairly simple. You finish using your device for the day, close it, plug it in, go to bed. The carrying it around with you is a poor example in my opinion because 2 in 1s are generally much lighter than the book and notes you would carry. The surface pro without the type cover is about 0.9kg or something like that so it's really not much trouble compared to carrying all your notes around with you and your textbooks.
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(Original post by Arcann)
Hi Everyone,

Going into Uni this year, i've been pondering whether to use a 2 in 1 Laptop, or pen and paper to take my notes in class.

I have read a lot about handwritten note taking being the easier way to learn, and so have been thinking about using onenote as my primary place of writing, to keep it all online, decrease clutter, and still be able to write equations or whatever it may be via a stylus.

If anyone has any experience working in this way, or any reason why simply using pen and paper is better, id appreciate hearing plenty of opinions.
Pen and paper. Personally I get distracted by laptops/iPads and would only use them when I NEED to.
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(Original post by blackugo)
I already talked about charging your device. If you plug it in when you go to bed it should easily last you the day if you get a device with decent battery life. That's a small habit you have to build but it is much less difficult than building a habit of organising all your paper because charging a device is fairly simple. You finish using your device for the day, close it, plug it in, go to bed. The carrying it around with you is a poor example in my opinion because 2 in 1s are generally much lighter than the book and notes you would carry. The surface pro without the type cover is about 0.9kg or something like that so it's really not much trouble compared to carrying all your notes around with you and your textbooks.
A 1 - 2Kg laptop is not lighter than a regular notebook or a refill pad of paper (which is what I used). I didn't carry all my notes with me, only the paper I needed to write on. My notes never left my room, and even then 3 years worth of notes wasn't heavier than my ultrabook. If I were in the position where I needed to carry textbooks with me all day, I'd personally much prefer a lightweight notebook over a tablet or laptop. But in some cases I'd stick an A6 notepad and a pen in my pocket and go to class.

At this point it's just splitting hairs for the sake of it though so I'll leave it at that.
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(Original post by Riannnne)
Pen and paper. Personally I get distracted by laptops/iPads and would only use them when I NEED to.
This is really important. I can't count the amount of people I'd see in lectures writing notes on their phones or laptops, and then get distracted part way through. Hell an extension to this is how distracting it is to people around you too. This is substantially reduced with pen and paper.
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