How Important Is Writing by Hand in This Digital Age?
Given the opportunity to take notes by hand or on the computer, most students choose the latter. After all, modern technology offers plenty of benefits for writers.
The digital writing workspace is convenient for several reasons. A single laptop or tablet can hold all the books and materials a student needs. It can also contain tools for research, entertainment activities, and curated music. The tech devices make learning more accessible. With the push of a button or a tap on a screen, students can activate engaging learning experiences, or they can record lectures.
Convenience, however, doesn’t trump old-fashioned writing by hand when it comes to learning. Writing by hand has benefits that technology has not been able to reproduce – yet.
Writing by hand:
Develops visual motor skills
Learning how to pick up, grasp and write with a pencil or a pen requires eye-hand coordination and small motor skills. You use eye-hand coordination and small motor skills to perform self-care basics and even to access digital technology by clicking a mouse or tapping and swiping touch screens.
When you regularly write by hand, you are practicing the skills you need to use technology.
Students who take notes on a computer capture more of what’s said in a lecture, but they are less likely to remember what was said. On the other hand, students who create their notes by longhand are more likely to remember what they were taught because they had to synthesize the information through mapping, paraphrasing, and summarizing.
Writing by hand develops unique patterns in the brain. Students who make their notes by hand are more likely to remember the content than peers who type or record the same notes.
Increases language processing skills
Writing and reading are recursive acts that require thinking skills, and writing by hand supports the development of these skills.
Composing an essay is quick work on a digital device. Writing by hand slows down the thought process, and it gives the learner time to formulate language expression. Making notes and writing essays by hand requires learners to think about words and how they are spelled, the best ways to use the words in sentences, and how to structure the sentences containing them.
Students who write by hand engage with their thinking and the content, and their reading skills and writing expression improve as a result of this practice.
Technology is not going away. Neither should writing by hand because of how it helps students develop their visual motor skills, improve their thinking, and increase their ability to process language. Long writing prepares students for other endeavors.
Writing by hand in this digital age is a critical part of 21st-century technology readiness.