At this point in time, in the middle of dental school, I’ve spent many many hours in lecture halls. Here’s what I’ve found: a lot of professors are disorganized, and as a result tend to descend into tangential (yet important for the exam!) monologues that stray far from the ugly PowerPoint slide at hand. During these all-too-frequent digressions, one must be ready to transcribe a lot of information very quickly. To accomplish this, I have slowly adopted the use of a laptop during lectures.
You may wonder why have I held on to my pen and paper for so long. In fact, there are a few reasons for delaying a full-time switch to a laptop. First, the lecture halls are steeply raked, causing one’s sight-lines to the professor to be cut off by a computer screen — this interference makes lectures much less effective. Second, laptop keys are noisy (any keyboard noise is terribly distracting in quiet lecture halls). Finally, the professor wonders what I’m doing behind that screen. So, the laptop is efficient, but it cuts me off by taking me out of the lecture and into laptop-land. Despite the isolation it fosters, my only option when I need to record scads of information in a very short period of time is a laptop.
Imagine a device allowing me to remain engaged in the lecture through eye contact, record notes quickly yet silently, and store all my books in feather-light digital form.
My oh my, suddenly the iPad looks compelling for any student in my position.