Technology has changed the way students study, especially in the last year, and often for the better, but the use of a new iPhone feature to copy notes has split viewers.
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Introduced to TikTok by French school student Yann Bernillie, he gained over 1 million views with the sneaky use of Apple‘s Live Text feature added in September.
The feature allows iPhone users to scan saved photos or use the camera tool to detect written words in the frame and copy and paste it elsewhere. The tool also allows users to select things like phone numbers and addresses to make a call or find directions straight from the image.
From the settings of a lecture hall, Bernillie secretly took a photo of another student’s laptop screen full of notes from the lesson. Using the Live Text tool he was then able to scan all of the notes and copy and paste them for his own use.
The video can also be seen in full here.
Bernillie was able to reap what he did not sow, gaining notes from the whole lesson without having to really do anything. The ethics on this one are certainly up for debate, and so is whether or not copying lesson notes is technically cheating—though if students plan to try out the feature on marked assessments they may find themselves with a dreaded plagiarism strike.
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“This is brilliant. I didn’t think of using the new feature that way,” wrote one TikTok user.
Writer Juan Buis shared the video to Twitter on October 14, writing: “Students are starting to steal each other’s notes with iOS 15 and it’s… kind of genius.”
With Twitter tending to have older users than Gen Z’s go-to TikTok, views ranged from support to speaking out against the technique.
“At my university people were selling their notes for $$$…sorry to see their business model destroyed,” joked Buis, highlighting that the concept of using others’ notes is far from new, though previously done with consent.
“When I was in college, many of our lectures were just PowerPoint presentations that the professors wanted us to take notes from. Would’ve loved to have been able to just sit in the back and take photos of the slides for copying and pasting,” replied one Twitter user.
Others however weren’t so receptive to the trick, pointing out that it skips one huge benefit of note-taking. Within education research, there exists two suggested benefits of taking notes while learning: external-storage hypothesis, which is looking back on them after, and encoding hypothesis, which is the idea that actively taking notes actually helps you comprehend and retain the information better.
By simply copying and pasting someone else’s notes, students potentially miss out on half the learning benefits.
For one teacher on Twitter, the idea of taking notes on a laptop at all defeats the purpose: “One of the reasons I required students to take notes by hand. But more importantly because studies have shown increased comprehension and understanding with handwritten notes when compared to those typed. Call me old fashioned but I stand by this comment,” he wrote.
The Live Text feature, and ability to take notes from other students, is new for iPhone users—much to the entertainment of online android phone users who have been able to use Google Lens for a while.
Google Lens similarly lets users scan images for text to then copy and paste to other places.