Sunday, 13 May 2012

Taking notes in the digital age

Why do we continue to take notes in the digital age? Principally because the act of taking notes helps get the information into memory, and secondarily to have something to refer to (which may be shorter, more accessible, better structured or simply more familiar than formats available online).

These are good reasons, that are unlikely to go away in shortterm (although the role of memory in society is perhaps diminishing). And as such, we need to make better use of those notes.

What would education be like if every student published every note they take to the web? And if then students could vote on each others notes, helping identify the best ones (and thus helping teachers refine their teaching material). There are numerous tools around for storing, and publishing notes to the web, but it doesn't yet feel like we're anywhere near every student's every note.

There are two enablers required - one is good quality, low cost, low hassle handwriting recognition; and the other is a cultural shift of public by default. Imagine, in real-time seeing the notes of students appear on the web as they write them in class.

This approach isn't just limited to education: imagine in a government organisation or corporate, meeting notes appearing in real-time on the intranet as employees note down the output from meetings.

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