Notebooks become obsolete

By Gianna Shikitino
September 25, 2008

In college, students often work together in teams, brainstorm ideas together and collaborate on projects. Many new Web-based products are sprouting up. The range from free ones like Google Documents and wikis to costly group project managers. In the middle price range at $30 a year is, from the maker of those notebooks students have used since kindergarten.

Mead, the maker of the dependable notebooks, Five Star, has now taken an online group collaboration. Mead Map is trying to break the habit of using notebooks. The new Web-based program is designed to help its users quickly and efficiently take better notes.

There, the site provides an overview video, quick tutorial and a try-it-out tutorial map. Mead’s slogan, “helping you learn while saving you time,” may be put to the test.

Mead says its easy to use and saves time, helps students organize and take notes for research, simplifies group projects and permits real-time collaboration and online access. While overlooking these steps on the Web site may easily persuade someone to sign up, there is a fee to pay.

Elise Legendre, sophomore special education major, did not seem interested in Mead Map. “I don’t think I’d use it. It would be more complicated than what it’s worth,” Legendre said. “I don’t think many students will use it if you have to pay for it.”

Students can many of the same ability to collaborate and have online access by using the free Google Documents, which is a part of Gmail. Cabrini’s librarians will also teach students to use wikis for group projects. Wikis are free online collaborative tools and are how Wikipedia is created. Anyone can start a wiki and invite others to collaborate.

Even though Mead Map is an entirely new form of note-taking, it may be hard for students to break the habit of the traditional notetaking. “I probably wouldn’t use it at all, I don’t take notes anyways,” Andrew Foll, sophomore business major, said.

If students don’t seem to be interested in giving Mead Map a chance, then will this program fade away before becoming a fad? “Stuff like that always seems to fade out,” Foll said. “I remember when smart boards came out. Everybody made such a big deal about it and now it’s nothing.”

Professors may seem to think differently.

“Although the program seems a bit complicated to me, I’m guessing that students will be able to master it fairly easily,” Dr. Jeff Gingerich, associate professor of sociology, said. “Although I would be hesitant to have this replace notebooks, I think the two might complement each other.”

Gingerich enjoyed browsing through the program. “I especially like the collaborative aspect of this kind of studying,” Gingerich said. “Anything that will encourage students to organize themselves and work together in groups to improve student learning is OK in my book.”

Since Mead Map is quite complex, students who try it may give up because they do not want to waste time.

Gingerich said, “My primary concern is that students will spend so much time figuring out how to use the program that they will sacrifice actual studying and research time.”

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Gianna Shikitino

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