Back, decades ago in time when I was an undergrad, grad and then medical student – paper and pencil went with me everywhere. I finally learned that a pen was probably more reliable, but I took notes on just about everything. That was my way of processing information – to hear it, listen to it, and then write it down. It was how I incorporated new information. I didn’t often re-read the notes, except perhaps right before a major exam. It was the taking of the notes, placing the faculty member’s ideas, concepts and words into my own that provided me the learning.
Then came the era (which I missed, thank you very much) of schools having tape recorders and transcribers. Students could get the lessons, information by going to the library and not bothering with other students or an interactive learning environment. Even later came the time of Internet and being able to download just about anything onto your laptop. Why even bother to get out of bed? Certainly you have no chance of discussing the information or ever seeing the inside of a classroom except for examinations.
In the last few years, people have started to bring laptops to major meetings; typing away notes. At least those notes are more legible and it certainly is quieter than a portable typewriter would have been. There are still the issues of annoying key clicks and battery life. Now we are in the era of iPads and iPhones. Fingers busy on silent screens, the % of Mac users has increased. I used to see the occasional Macbook. In this group? More than 50%.
All this left aside the issue of slides. I figured out the camera trick a number of years ago. With smaller and lighter (and digital cameras) you can listen to the lecture and take pictures of the more important slides. Obviously (well not to some of the people around me) you need a camera that functions in low light so that you don’t require flash. Imagine how annoying it might be to present a lecture with the constant bright flashes here and there. Not pointed at you, the lecturer. No, just at your slides. You stand there and thing about all those participants who can now reproduce the information and present your lecture – sounding brilliant at home. (I am not even going to go down the copyright issues).
Here I am today sitting in an absolutely terrific lecture on “Sex, Drugs, and Tattoos.” I have my iPad and free WiFi. I have my knitting but that doesn’t help with this particular issue. No camera because I thought it might be too heavy.
Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Mass.