Here in this article I will be discussing briefly some of the potential advantages and disadvantages for using a laptop in university lectures in terms of effective note making and hopefully this article can help you (especially new higher education students) to decide whether to come in to a university lecture with a laptop, or just to stick with the good old fashioned pen and paper. There will also be just a few general tips at the end on using a laptop in university lectures as well. Be sure to check out the advantages and disadvantages of using an iPad in university lectures also.

Advantages for Using a Laptop In University Lectures

Internet - by having access to the internet, you are then enabled to come up with past course material on the spot (which can benefit your note) due to the university online structure you have, so you will then be able to quickly refer to points that could be previously made, or you can find material online from resources such as wikipedia that can elaborate on certain points made in the lecture.

Notes - you are also likely to find that the notes that you make are clearer, and can obviously save you time and effort when they might need to be edited  for corrections rather than having to be completely re-drafted. It also enables you to transfer and integrate material about, inserting information from place to another, without having to re-write the entire page of notes.

Mobility - as all the information is , the actual amount of stuff you have to carry in and out of lectures can be significantly reduced as most of what you have come up with has been typed up on the laptop and isn't in an ever growing folder that has to be lugged about. You can also send the notes via email, so you can send it to your own email account so you can open up the notes wherever you like, with whatever computer you like, personally I like to create a little blog with my own personal notes on. You might not even the internet if you upload your notes on a memory stick.

Tools - with the laptop you have been provided with a numerous amount of tools from on the spot calculators, and then with the internet your laptop provides you with thousands more. You are able to make your notes more effective for revision by making text stand out by highlighting, changing the font type, changing the size, insert relevant images into your notes etc. All of which are a lot more time consuming rather than trying to carry it out by hand.

Searching - when you have typed up information it is rather simple to find the exact notes you are looking for, where as when you are faced with paper it is often difficult (unless you have organised them well, which is time consuming in itself) to find quickly what you are after.

Disadvantages for Using a Laptop In University Lectures

Internet - although I have mentioned this in the advantages for using a laptop in university lectures, it could also potentially be your biggest disadvantage also. If you are easily distracted, the laptop will be a very tempting source to just check social networking sites, email, play games, when you should be in fact paying attention to the lecture.

Type Speed - another issue is the speed of your note taking, are you faster writing notes or are you faster typing notes. If it is the former it is probably best you stay to pen and paper, as lectures need you to write fast in some circumstances. 

Usefulness - although the laptop could potentially be extremely useful to you in a lecture, sometimes it is best just to use your hand and draw diagrams out. Personally, I find that math and quantitative lectures that require diagrams, I will go and take notes by hand.

Laptop Breaks - if you haven't backed up all your material on to a separate memory platform, you could potentially lose all your notes that you have made, or at least the ones being made in this lecture (if it were to break in the lecture). To solve this however, make sure you get them backed up several times over, send them to your email account, get them backed up on pen drives etc.

Suitability - sometimes the laptop simply isn't functional and can be awkward to use due to the limited space available in the lecture room. However, most students opt for the smaller laptops such as the MacBook Pro 13.3 inch to overcome the space issue.

Summary of the Pros and Cons for Using a Laptop in University Lectures

Personally, I would take both my laptop and word pad and some stationery to a university lecture. I would start with my laptop mainly for the reason presented in the advantages section, I believe that my writing is rather scruffy and this makes my notes clearer to read, I also find that I can take notes my faster also, whilst integrating some previous notes with that I made before the lecture as well. I often have the notes that I made in preparation on my laptop also.

The only reason, I bring the word pad etc. is if my laptop is acting up or I have forgot to leave it on charge, I would leave it at home completely if it is for a quantitative lecture, as it is just easier to write numbers and symbols down quicker by hand. But generally I would then go home and re-write it on my computer to make everything clear again.

However, that is only my own personal opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of using a laptop for university lectures, but you will soon get a feel if using a laptop is right for you or not. If you have any more pros and cons please let me know by commenting below.

A few tips for if you are going to use a laptop for university lectures:

  • Make sure you turn the sound to mute, no one (especially the lecturer) wants to hear the sound of your laptop booting up.
  • Make sure you save your notes regularly through out the lecture (shortcut: ctrl + s) so you won't lose potential work.
  • Make sure that your laptop is fully charged before bringing it to the lecture, last thing you want is to be stranded with a laptop with no power.