About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4116-4121
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.1091

Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain


M. Ronchetti

Università di Trento (ITALY)
A medieval manuscript dated in the second half of the XIV century and presently conserved at Kupferstichkabinett Berlin contains a very well known image by Laurentius de Voltolina portraying a university lecture[1]. A professor expounds a text ex cathedra, students in the first rows take notes while some in the back talk among themselves, and one even sleeps. Not much seems to have changed over many centuries! Note taking is still there, but has gone through some transformation. At least since the invention of printing, teachers have also provided learning materials in the form of handouts or learning notes. Since the advent of ICT, typical form of handouts has been provided as soft copies of the slides, which compose a presentation (using software such as e.g. Microsoft™ PowerPoint™). Also Interactive Whiteboards allow creating handouts, simply capturing everything has been written on them and providing it in a PDF file. For sure this has diminished the pressure on students to take notes.

In spite of being so common, it is not obvious that such “modern” practices are good from a pedagogical point of view. On one hand, one could argue that freeing students from the need to copy information allows them to use their intellectual ability for nobler activities, such as comprehend what they are taught. On the other hand however some object that taking notes favours keeping the concentration [2], and that giving out the content of the presentation gives students the illusion to have at hand knowledge they do not really own (yet). Some professors also complain that there are students who prepare for the exam almost only by reading the slides content.

Is it possible to give students the best of the two views, i.e. to provide them the material while encouraging them to take notes? To try to answer such question, we developed a software system based on a methodological model which takes into account the need for the student o be active in class (at least taking notes during a frontal lecture) and at the same time allows them to easily capture whatever is relevant to them.

Our system allows students to easily capture on their laptop or notebook whatever they see projected in class, and to annotate it electronically. Having such facility in place, the teacher does not need to, and should not, publish the hand-outs. Rather, each student has to create their own handouts by capturing whatever seems relevant to them and annotating it in a very simple manner that does not require much effort other than simply deciding to do it. In such way students are also motivated and pushed to follow the lecture (knowing that if they do not capture themselves their notes, thy will not have the learning material). Since it is quite possible that a student has an attention drop and misses capturing some relevant stuff, our methodology foresees the possibility of reviewing and integrating notes while watching a video of (a portion of) the (recorded) lecture. Alternatively, one could use a collaborative writing tool to have groups of students creating shared handouts.

In the paper we will briefly review the topic of the utility of note taking, and present details of the methodology and system we propose.

[1] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Laurentius_de_Voltolina_001.jpg
[2] Kobayashi, K. "Combined Effects of Note‐Taking/‐Reviewing on Learning and the Enhancement through Interventions: A meta‐analytic review." Educational Psychology 26.3 (2006): 459
author = {Ronchetti, M.},
series = {10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-6957-7},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2017.1091},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2017.1091},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {4116-4121}}
AU - M. Ronchetti
SN - 978-84-697-6957-7/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2017.1091
PY - 2017
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2017
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2017 Proceedings
SP - 4116
EP - 4121
ER -
M. Ronchetti (2017) STOP GIVING HANDOUTS! LET THE STUDENTS CREATE THEIR OWN, ICERI2017 Proceedings, pp. 4116-4121.