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National Notebook Day: Are We Typing More & Writing Less!


By Dr Rashi Mishra

Since technology has advanced at a fast pace and now people prefer writing on tablets, smartphones, and laptops, the manner of writing has changed. Probably no one ever has thought that we would be typing more and writing less!

Indeed, technology has reduced the use of paper and pen. As per studies, writing by hand engages our neural pathways; those who write on the paper apply more mental effort than those who type more and, consequently, fail to perform well in the written exams. Some studies have shown that typed words stay for not more than 24 hours (one day) in our memory, but if we write the same with pen and paper, it stays at least for a week and could be for longer. Preparing notes has always been considered a better way of understanding concepts. Writing enhances creativity and ways of communicating. How well one presents one’s thoughts on paper has always been a criterion to assess one’s capability while appearing in the examination.

Right from how to wash hands properly to the importance of our loved ones, from changing patterns of lifestyles to modifications in the teaching-learning platform, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us so many things altogether. Teaching-learning structure took a new shape in the meantime. Finding an alternative mode for teaching was never a convincing idea before this pandemic. Online teaching came up as the need of the hour and a necessity when everything was facing lockdown. The education sector was experimenting and spreading its wings. However, it is a little too ambitious to announce it as a smooth flight forever. Given the background of the pandemic, students are now more into typing and online learning and are very friendly toward smartphones and tablets. But the kind of problems it has raised is alarming. Still, students appear in a formal examination where they write and get evaluated on it. More than a ritual, written exams are the essential requirements that assess students’ abilities, IQ level, thought processes and writing skills. Students appear in the written examination in offline or online teaching.

Various entrance examinations and other competitive exams like UGC-NET, UPSC, etc., have changed the patterns to Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) that do not require people to write much, instead tick mark the answer. The bigger question is whether changing to MCQs would be able to assess students’ performance and ensure a bright future ahead. Imagine a student appearing for some media course examination! Instead of evaluating a would-be journalist’s writing skills, the question paper contains tick marking. Would students’ writing capability ever be assessed?

A candidate who can do wonders in other fields like management or statistics might blunder once associated with a media group. By qualifying such examinations, neither the evaluator nor the candidate would ever be able to assess their worth. To begin with, one can try setting descriptive questions. The papers of various entrance examinations at the university level or competitive exams must be as per the nature of the subjects.

The larger question is how the way people are learning now has been impacted. People have moved into google type learning. Scanning has become a way of reading rather than going deep. Instant communication is a new way of communication. Type more and write less somehow touches the shallow learning Vs deeper learning aspect. In the long run, it could be a big problem due to the weak foundation of students. The way learning has been moving may be not so productive. Time to think now – the least one can do on National Notebook Day!