Education and Information Technologies

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 255–283 | Cite as

Requirements for electronic note taking systems: A field study of note taking in university classrooms

  • Kibum Kim
  • Scott A. Turner
  • Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones


Note taking is the core activity for students in a classroom. There has been a large amount of research conducted, both from industry and from academia, into facilitating the note-taking process. There is evidence that shows that note taking can be beneficial for the students’ educational growth. There are also many available systems for taking notes electronically (e.g. Tablet PCs, PDAs). However, what has not been given as much attention is how these electronic devices affect (or support) the note taking task. In this paper, we study university students’ current note taking behavior and the changes caused by the use of electronic systems for this activity. The goal of our work is to identify issues that should be considered when evaluating electronic note taking systems and to formulate requirements for future electronic note-taking systems. Our findings show that while the technological support for writing with pens on electronic surfaces is quite advanced, the task of note taking in the classroom is not well supported. We identify the limitations of typical note taking systems and discuss the implications for the design of future note taking systems. Our work consisted of three parts: a survey of current note-taking practices, an observational study in a classroom environment, and a semester long case study of students using electronic note-taking devices. All of these activities took place at a large 4-year university. We found that the people reacted to note-taking devices very differently and that their current practices were not always well supported. The users all wanted to input information as fast as possible, in the manner they wanted but they were not always able to achieve that. Hardware limitations (i.e. screen size, responsiveness) added to this issue. We also found that the features that are well supported in an electronic medium (i.e. modification, reorganizing, multiple pen colors/styles, handwriting recognition, sharing) were not commonly used or wanted.


Note taking Multiplatform devices Context University students Higher education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kibum Kim
    • 1
  • Scott A. Turner
    • 2
  • Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones
    • 2
  1. 1.Applied Research and Technology CenterMotorola LabsSchaumburgUSA
  2. 2.Computer Science DepartmentVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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