Affordances of mobile devices and note-taking apps to support cognitively demanding note-taking

02 Oct 2019

Note-taking is one of the more common and ever-present learning activities that form an important part of all students’ daily lives. The potential of using technology to enhance note-taking activities has recently come under the spotlight. However, while mobile technologies may be applauded for their mobility and the value they can add to students’ learning experience, they could easily become a distracting factor, rather than the improvement they were intended to be. In this qualitative study, eight students volunteered to experiment with various mobile devices for a period of 6 weeks, and to share their experiences in a series of five group interviews. Information found in the literature about note-taking, combined with the students’ feedback on their experiences, provided insight into how students record and process information. The affordances of mobile devices for cognitively demanding note-taking that are regarded as useful in a teaching and learning environment were also discussed in the group interviews. All the students agreed that they would not commit themselves to using only one application or device. They emphasised the fact that they used more than one device, and in some cases multiple applications on those devices, depending on their educational setting. This article gives students, lecturers and software developers insight into the affordances of mobile devices and note-taking applications (apps), in order to support cognitively demanding note-taking.