As a 3rd-year university student now, I’ve experimented the last two years with both paper and digital notebooks. I’m sure many of my colleagues that have a few years with the OU have done the same and the new incoming students will probably go through their own experimentations too.
While this isn’t so much about note-taking as it is literal notebooks, I am hoping that this could be helpful to someone out there!
With that said, starting off on our list…
1 Our Dearly Beloved Traditional Notebooks
For many of us, these are a huge part of our origin story as academics. We grew up going to school using dedicated notebooks for our respected subjects and buying new ones every year. While some of us eventually used loose paper with dividers on a three-ring binder, this is our 'home' - this is our comfort.
Many of us still enjoy buying new notebooks and buying stationery! It's fun and as long as we can afford it, nothing can stop us.
But, for others, these notebooks are a resounding nope. If this is you, perhaps you don't want to buy new notebooks or stationary every time you need them. Maybe you do better typing or are used to technology. In fact, you'd prefer it. Digital notebooks are probably the next solution for you.
2 Digital Notebooks - The New "Traditional" For Some
Many of us have laptops, computers or tablets already and thanks to the OU, we have OneNote!
Whether it's Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, Notion or whatever else you might use to take notes, you never have to buy a new notebook. You just make a "new" one automatically with a click on a button or a touch on the screen. You can highlight and change the colour of your notes without having to spend money or worry about running out of ink. You only have to worry about having enough battery and an automatic save for emergencies, but that's around it.
Though, if you've tried this for really long periods of time, you might have discovered that your eyes get dry or you get headaches.
If this and other negative side effects of too much screen time bother you or you don't want to use laptops and don't want to waste money by getting a new notebook every so often, there is a solution!
3 A "Smart Notebook" - The New Hybrid Generation
Smart notebooks are like regular traditional notebooks, but with a twist. All your notes end up on the "cloud" of your choosing (typically) via phone app and you can reuse your notebook as many times as you want. At least, that's the idea. Some of them do have a limit on how much one can use them and others don't, like most of Rocketbook.
They can be a bit hard to navigate at first due to their unique hybrid nature, but they're great once you experiment with them. They are also often advertised towards those who care about the environment and expand on how financially beneficial they can be.
You can get hyper realistic ones, or more tablet-like ones.
The only real issue might be finding pens or ink that can work with these notebooks. Though, that's really is the only investment you'll have to make for as long as the notebook works.