How Taking Notes on a Tablet Changed My Life

It’s 2020, and our society is becoming more technologically dependent by the second. Technological advancements were already shaping our world, but as a result of the pandemic and transitioning practically everything online, we are plugged in more than ever before. Using technology fluidly in our daily lives enhances our capabilities - particularly in academics. Doing school online may come with a lot of challenges, but let me introduce you to my 21st-century school hack - one that I employed even before the pandemic that has changed my life in university. 

If you have the financial capability, I highly urge you to purchase either a 2-in-1 laptop with pen compatibility (meaning, a laptop that can flip over into a tablet) or a tablet, such as an iPad, with a pen. For my first year of college, I was gifted a 2-in-1 laptop, but it wasn’t until halfway through the first semester that I ordered a pen to go with it. The idea of using a laptop as a tablet seemed really cool to me, but it wasn’t until I started taking my notes on my laptop and integrating the pen technology into my everyday studies that I realized just how much this seemingly small tool was going to change my life. 

Now, I do everything on my laptop, and having the ability to use my laptop as a tablet with the pen is unmatched. You only ever need to carry around your laptop and nothing else, so no more heavy backpacks. You have access to anything and everything at all times, so it’s impossible to forget your work or bring the wrong binder to class. I can get all of my textbooks as online versions and put my screen into a side-by-side mode to easily take notes with the textbook right there, or highlight it if I want to. I can copy diagrams and graphs from my homework portals directly into my notes in order to draw on them and work directly on them. Many of my exams are in a PDF format that we download, and I can write directly on the PDF and re-upload them easily. If I need to do a reading or download an article for my class, I can easily download it and write notes directly onto it and then save it to my laptop so I can access it whenever I need to. I can do homework on my laptop and then easily email it to my professors for a simple, trackable, no-paper-waste turn-in. And an even further benefit of the 2-in-1 is that I can flip it over back into a laptop at any time and do anything that's simpler with a keyboard like write an essay, and everything is all in the same place. 

But the most important feature, in my opinion, is the note-taking capabilities. I take a lot of notes in all of my classes, and, as a math major, I’m also drawing a lot of graphs. I use OneNote to take all of my notes, but there are many different programs available for different products. By taking notes on my laptop, I am still getting the physical benefits of hand-writing my notes or study guides. I have every color known to humankind at my fingertips, and multiple different drawing tools as well in order to make my notes aesthetically pleasing. In fact, taking these kinds of notes tend to make me even more engaged with my coursework because I enjoy making the notes look nice. There are rulers and shapes readily available, and even a math feature where you can select an equation and it will solve it for you or graph it for you. It can even solve more advanced math like integrals. You can move sections of text around easily if you need to change or add something, and it’s super easy to fix something later without having to completely redo everything. 

Overall, having these capabilities at my fingertips has amplified my studies and has made me more excited about school overall. Using the pen and tablet mode has allowed me to access many of my academic resources more readily and has also allowed me to have a lower environmental footprint, as I no longer need to print anything out or buy physical textbooks. I can take color-coded, pleasing notes super easily, and engage with the material in a more direct way. So, if you’re looking for a sign to buy a 2-in-1 laptop or a tablet, look no further. This is your sign. Do it. It will change your academic life. 

Matt Ragland