Pros and Cons of Studying with a Computer
The question of whether a computer can help students in high school or college was settled long ago. It’s nearly impossible to find a student who doesn’t use a PC to help him type papers or look up things in encyclopedias. But what about major study sessions? The traditional form of studying has consisted mostly of pulling out your textbook and class notes and sitting at your desk or on your bed and trying to memorize as much as possible.
The dawn of the computer age, though, changes things up a bit. Now there are increasingly more ways to enhance your study sessions with the computer and especially with the Internet. But do computers help or hinder your study time? The answer might be: a little of both. Here are some ways that computers might be a boost to your grade–and a few ways that they might actually detract from your study time.
How Computers Boost Your Study Time
Honestly, there are more ways that computers can assist you with study than ways that they detract from it. For starters:
• Computers help you stay organized. In the old days, college students kept papers in their desk, in folders, in shoeboxes, and anything else they could find. Pencils and pens were lying everywhere, and five, six or a dozen books were laying all over the place. The modern student, thanks to computers, can be far more organized. Creating a separate file for each of your classes is as simple as creating a desktop icon. All of your research can be copied and pasted into that folder. Most printers now also scan, so you can even scan your class notes into the computer and place them into the appropriate folder. Want to be even more organized? Consider going to www.zoho.com, where you can create a notebook for each of your classes, and also have an online word processor to help with your assignments. All of that, plus there’s an online “to do list,” to help you be even more organized.
• Some students start taking their notes directly on their computers rather than on a regular paper notebook. This makes keeping notes much faster, especially if you type fast enough. Plus it keeps your notes together with all of your Internet research on the subject. Suggestion: If you want to use a computer to take notes, consider getting a netbook. They’re far more portable and easier to carry with you from class to class. Or if you can afford it, you might buy a tablet PC (either an iPad or other). These allow you to type on a virtual keyboard, thus eliminating almost all typing noise.
• Increasingly, there are advanced programs that enhance your study experience. For instance, there are programs specifically designed to create flow charts, and others that create easy-to-follow outlines. Some programs help you make diagrams and charts. Best of all: Many of these programs can be downloaded for free. Just go to www.download.com and type in the appropriate keywords.
How Computers Might Detract From Your Study Time
There are a few precautions you should consider when using a computer for your study sessions. For instance:
• Typing your notes in class could prove disastrous if you’re a slow typist. You’ll find yourself panicking, trying to keep up, and probably missing out on a lot. Not to mention that if you have a noisy keyboard, you risk irritating your fellow students and the instructor. Suggestion: Only type in class if you type fast and if you know your keyboard is fairly quiet.
• One of the biggest drawbacks is that there are a multitude of distractions on the computer. When studying at the PC, you’re risking being interrupted by countless instant messages, Facebook notifications, e-mails, etc.
Bottom line: Computers make great study aids, if you’re disciplined enough to ignore the distractions and if you’re skilled enough to operate it as required.
About the Author Brian is a writer and web developer living in Victoria BC. He has a BA in Economics and an MA in Psychology. Brian has written and published widely on education, testing, psychology and popular culture.