As both a VEX notebooker and someone who has written digital documents for other high school activities, I can see both being equally valid when justified. For me it comes down to the purpose of why you are writing a document. In my perspective, the purpose of writing a notebook is to demonstrate progress, the team, ideas along the way, record data, track quality management, team management, time management, and sourcing, and really anything else that provides meaningful insight into the project.
A physical notebook forces you to get into it and avoid the perfectionist mentality that many of us high school kids have when doing a project like VEX. You have to learn to manage multiple aspects at once and it’s extremely beneficial to process as once you do it for long enough it becomes built-in. Organization is useful, but providing a train of thought appeals more to the aspect of management and improvement while showcasing the ideas and data collected along the way.
On the other hand, digital documentation is like creating a work of art in creating the most understandable and communicable log of all aspects of robotics: scouting, the build, the code, etc. If I wanted to show the progress of subsystem EX with all of the tiny build quality details that can be lost in a physical notebook, this is the format I would want to use. It’s an extremely useful skill and lends to many aspects outside of careers that robotics would strictly lend itself to. It gives a different perspective of the project as something that has developed over time that can be equally valuable to a physical notebook perspective where a team has progressed over time.
I personally prefer physical documentation for VEX given the reasons above. However as teams reach a certain caliber of decision making process and commitment, it may be more beneficial to transition to a digital communication of the project development given most teams at that point will have had to develop skills to effectively manage progress. Given that, what I would do if I was the RECF is create an additional submission of a project development document for larger and more consequential tournaments such as state/regional tournaments, signature events and national/international tournaments. Awards such as the Create, Build, and Think Award would be the awards that are decided from this kind of document, whereas Awards that directly or indirectly depend on engineering notebooks - Excellence, Design, and Innovate - would rely on physical documentation.
Ultimately as a student, I want to gain skills from documenting that are meaningful to my experience level, and I think flexibility is needed to achieve that. VEX is fun and exciting, but there are many fun and exciting things with various skillsets involved and I would want to see that diversity represented in any decision, if there is a decision at all, that is made. And as to time-stamping, I think that’s entirely an organizational effort to have a system that best manages it. It can be achieved with either documentation method as long as there is a system in place with specific aspects assessed.