THE BLOG
07/07/2014 03:00 pm ET Updated Sep 06, 2014

How to Use Technology to Enhance Your Note-Taking Routine

Note-taking is a central skill for both high school and college students, and it is a skill that requires instruction and practice to be of true use to students. Successful individuals reflect upon their practices; they incorporate new advances - and in the 21st century, the primary advance is technology. Here are four reasons to enhance your note-taking routine with the inclusion of digital resources:

1. Technology allows you to carry all your notes everywhere
One notebook per class, four to six courses per semester, two semesters per year, for four years... equals 32 to 48 notebooks over the course of your college or high school career. In both cases, it is just not feasible to tote all your material with you, even if it is applicable to a current class. However, platforms like Google Documents that rely upon the cloud do enable you to access your notes whenever or wherever you require them - minus the strain of transporting them. Offline options eliminate the need for an Internet connection, which means you can reference past courses and strengthen the inter-connectedness of your knowledge.

2. Technology allows you to incorporate multimedia elements
"A picture is worth a thousand words" - how often do most individuals hear this phrase? And how often do students illustrate a difficult concept with a diagram? But are there subjects where a photograph, or an audio recording, or perhaps a video would better support your review? It is possible to maintain a list of outside resources in a folder or a planner, but websites like NoteApp (a virtual corkboard) and Pinterest (yes, the social media platform) permit you to place text alongside sources that rely on a medium other than the written word. Rather than attempting to quantify the call of a Snowy Owl, pin a YouTube video beside notes devoted to its other characteristics.

3. Technology allows you to organize your notes more efficiently
While it is certainly possible to arrange physical notes, software like Evernote can aid you in doing so in a variety of ways, certain of which are more flexible than paper and pen. Traditional notebooks cannot be reordered without removing pages, but Evernote provides its users with the option to create notebooks (i.e. an Introduction to Biology collection) and stacks (i.e. science courses). Notes can be transferred fluidly from one collection to another. Tagging notes (i.e. "genetics") enables you to view all material related to a specific topic, regardless of its location or the date it was recorded. And, of course, the vast majority of digital note-taking platforms support highlighting.

4. Technology allows you to reclaim lost discussion details
Large lecture classes or high-level courses (both in college and high school) often pose a note-taking challenge. It can be difficult to absorb and record the full breadth of material that is presented in each class session while also making sense of the complicated content, but smartpens provide one digital solution to this problem. Smartpens tape the discussion, and then synchronize it with your pen-and-paper notes via a grid that is embedded in each "notebook" page. Though initially expensive (expect to spend approximately $100-$120 for the pen, with PDFs of notebook paper available for free online), smartpens enable you to tap a specific portion of your notes and then play the associated segment of the original lecture.

We see the countless benefits of technology in many facets of our everyday lives. Don't underestimate its value to enhancing your study process as well!