Professors Say Ban The Laptops

from the pipe-down,-I've-got-a-good-hand-here dept

As people deal with the impact of technology on their lives, occasionally there's some pushback, like from law professors banning laptops in their classrooms. The profs say the machines inhibit debate and turn their students into "stenographers", and they're tired of catching people surfing the web or playing online poker during lectures. While that's probably annoying, what's the point in banning laptops because some students can't handle them? If a law student can't be bothered to stop playing poker while they're in class, it's unlikely that taking away the machine is going to turn them into a good, attentive student. There's an inherent risk in adopting new technologies for education, that some people will abuse them. But is it really any different than somebody doodling or daydreaming? Laptop computers aren't making people bad students, they're just doing a better job than pen and paper of keeping bad students entertained.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Matthias, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:01am

    Agree with ban

    I agree with the ban in class. It's not a question of whether students can handle them or not. A wall of opened laptop lids with the heads of students hidden behind them is not helping communication. Good old paper is far superior for taking notes. The notes can be transcribed later. I also support banning the use of email on laptops and blackberry-like devices in corporate meetings. Emailing during a meeting is a sign that the meeting is too long and the moderator needs to take control, ending the meeting if there is no relevant information to be shared.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:10am

    Offer something better

    Law school is a competitive enterprise and it is immoral to try to restrict how a student takes their notes in their personal effort to succeed. If the professor does not want laptops in his room, he should offer something better.

    He could for example offer lecture notes that students could just annototate with personal comments or he could get the class to agree on a few designated note takers who would circulate their notes to everyone else.

    So far as distractions go laptops are pretty tame. I remember a particularly dreadful math professor I had where I used to read a newspaper in the front row during his classes. I got an A but I don't think he liked me very much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    JerryJr, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:11am

    I would disagree

    Being a college student, I would disagree with this ban. If a student cannot handle the use of technology in the classroom, then it should reflect in their test scores. If it doesn't reflect in their test scores, then what is the problem? I would have to say that sometimes, a person just really doesn't want to listen fully to the lecture. Sometimes you may be familiar with the material already or other times you may just prefer to read the textbook and do you own studying on the material. If someone wants to pay for college and spend their time playing online poker, so be it.. I'm sure those habits will not pay off in the long run.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:19am

    hmmm, a couple of novel ideas here....

    First - make your class interesting. I have attended college classes that are FAR more interesting than Web Surfing and Playing Online Poker.

    Second - there's not a whole lot of debate in college anymore - the only debating they seem to do is how bad is America really? They don't debate issues on intellectual integrity, but on how it makes them feel politically.

    So in the end, the classes are getting so damn boring, the students find online poker more interesting...

    Sounds like a problem with the 'professors' not the laptops. But whatever...

    Heck, while we're at it - let's ban notebook paper too - afterall, I used to sit and doodle during boring classes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Mikester, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:23am

    Money down the drain

    If these students want to flunk the class because they'd rather play online poker, why not let them?
    It's their money (or their parents). Let them learn one of life's lessons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    krached, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:29am

    Re: Offer something better

    How is banning laptops for everyone immoral? Since it is a competitive environment, any disadvantage will affect everyone. It seems the permitting laptops gives those students who can afford them an unfair advantage.

    The difference between doodling and the laptop, doodling is much less distractive to those around you. Law classes are generally in ampitheatre seating, so it hard to ignore the flashing and blinking going on in front of you because it is so visible. I can easily read people's IM conversations in class.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Yonatron, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:41am

    IANALS, but I do go to college, and every time someone with a laptop has sat with their screen visible to me, I've seen MySpace or an IM client or something un-class-related on it.

    Of course, I'm considering bringing a laptop to classes next semester if I can figure out a good note-taking app/technique, so I don't necessarily think they have to be banned, but I certainly think it's the instructor's prerogative to do so if he finds them disruptive.

    And I agree with krached that they're a different kind of distraction than doodling. If someone's only entertainment option is some paper and pen, they're more likely to just skip class and be less distracting to instructors (many of whom can just tell if someone's not paying attention).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Danno, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:53am

    I concur for all classes except labs where you use your laptop to do practical work inside of the class.

    They are just distracting, trust me, I've lived it for the past four years.

    At the very least, WiFi needs to be under the Professor's control so they can force the students to stop yakking on IM.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    noman, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:58am

    distraction

    Pens and Pencils on paper are nowhere near as distracting to listen to as someone tapping away on a keyboard or clicking away with a mouse. Additionally, paper which lays flat on a desk is not in the lign of sight of people sitting behind the user, a laptop screen is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Herbie, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:01am

    WiFi

    I agree with Danno. If they could control the internet access, then they would be limited with what is on their laptop. That may not cut down on games, but it will messaging. It's hard for me to related since I'm old as dirt, but I would think that laptops would be very helpful in class. I know that I'd much rather type than write. I always had a hard time reading my own class notes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    lil'bit, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:08am

    Partial agreement

    This is, to a certain extent, the newest version of "should kids be allowed to take calulators into math?".

    But my comment is to the part about emailing during meetings. I know that the people with whom I work are in a meeting when I get immediate responses to my emails! It cracks me up! Also makes me glad I am neither the leader of the meetings or the professor that gets to lecture to large numbers of scalps (tops of heads)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Eric, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:08am

    Same issue in the corporate world

    Having left school long (ok, not that long) before the laptop became prevalent, I'll state that the same issue exists in the corporate world. Often I'll go into a meeting, and see everybody have their laptops open. If if they're not playing poker, they are reading their email, surfing the web, checking their stocks, whatnot. Negates the point of actually having the meeting if the people attending can't be counted on to actually pay attention to the meeting.

    Of course, that assumes that the meeting is actually useful, but hey, some actually are.

    Eric

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Logan, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:15am

    To try and stifle the use of technology is absurd. We use graphing calculators every day in advanced finance, statistics, calculus, etc. No one would think about going back to writing everything out on paper by hand. The few professors that do force students to do so are doing a disservice. Yes you are teaching a student how to do things, but not in an EFFICIENT manner. As a business student, everything is about efficiency. The efficient use of resources, efficient use of time, etc.

    Laptops are a tool that increases efficiency. If you ban them, your students will suffer greatly. In the end, the colleges that ban them, maybe not in the short run, but in the long run will suffer from a decrease in college applications.

    I have several classes where I may browse the internet/check my email on occasion, but only when I'm not in the middle of something else. For the most part, the students without laptops are at a GREAT DISADVANTAGE. In my Operations Management class, information is thrown at you so fast, that it's all you can do to try and keep up. You can't bother taking notes and trying to figure it out later, you have to build your spreadsheets while the professor is giving the lecture and explaining them.

    And as others have said, if a student pays, and doesn't destract others, it's their own future they are playing with. What should be done is having students with laptops sit towards the back of the class so students behind them aren't distracted. In many of the classrooms at WWU, there are only power outlets at the desks towards the back of the room. Most of the time I sit at the back specifically so that I don't disrupt others, and I have yet to have a professor complain.

    Fact is, laptops help big time. As teachers bring up subjects and no student understands the subject or someone wants a better explaination, sites like Wikipedia and Google can give a student enough information to spur a conversation on when previously the professor was sitting with silent students.

    Why prepare students in a classroom without the resources and tools that they will be using for the rest of their lives? Teach the students how to effectively use the tools and you will be doing a better job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Stephen Paulger, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:15am

    Games & Web browsing in lecture

    I'm a software engineering student at the university of wales, aberystwyth. I own a laptop but I would never take it to lectures. There are quite a few students that do take their laptops into lectures and apart from the two or three that sit right at the front majority of them spend their time in lectures playing games or browsing the web with the campus wireless network. Another good proportion just use the laptops to view the slides that are on the big screen(s) at the front anyway. I think taking a laptop to lectures is more about status than academic acheivement for these students and I personally find it distracting when I can see or hear someone is playing a game.

    Having said all that, the reason why people play games and browse the web is because their attention isn't being held by the class. I think for a lot of students this is because the lessons are pitched at the bottom end of the ability ranged meaning everyone who even approaching average ability has heard most things before and is desperate for something better to do with their time when lecture attendance is enforced with threats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Rikko, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:15am

    Overreaction

    I don't see the problem with laptops.. If someone can't be bothered to pay attention, then clearly their attention isn't needed.
    If the prof is boring and regurgitates the textbook such that any student can easily do well, why should any student pay attention?
    Conversely, if they do need to pay attention and don't, then that $50 they made in Party Poker during class is a small consolation to the poor grades on their transcript.

    Same with work. If someone is playing on their laptop in a meeting, they clearly didn't need to be there and their time is being wasted. If they did need to pay attention and didn't, someone will notice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    W1cked, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:19am

    What some tend to forget...

    College, life, and everything in general is not fair. The professor should have the authority to deny everyone in the class from using a laptop, calculator, blackberry, cell phone, digital watch, or any other device that could disrupt him or her from delivering the information that is being taught.

    It's ridiculous to think that a college student has a right to their laptop or wireless Internet access during the course of a class. Companies have policies limiting use of cell phones with cameras, personal laptops, thumb drives, and a host of other devices that could be used to hijack information. The kids better start learning to cut the tether to their IM client, myspace, WOW, and whatever else they're running and get back to the basics of learning and thinking.

    Bring a pen and a piece of paper, your book, sit down, shut the hell up with your whining, and learn something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Jason, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:19am

    People not Method

    How about trying to ban the students they catch goofing off in class. I don't know about but if I knew, for example, that my doctor was playing poker in half his classes he wouldn't be my doctor.

    If someone wants too goof off and not pay attention then they should fail the class at the end of the semester. How does the means of their goofing make any difference to this.

    If a student is taking notes on a laptop then there is a good chance they don't need to debate whatever you are debating. Learning is learning, we don't all do it the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Sharif, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:22am

    Re: Anonymous Coward

    First I agree with you, make the class & presentation interesting. I remember my financial accounting & few other classes, I just would not miss them at all. The professors really knew how to make it fun.

    Second (and technical): once the student walks in a classroom, he/she can only access the professor's website and the lecture material. They simply won't be able to access anyother websites during that period AT ALL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Topher3105, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:29am

    First

    Any real professor shouldn't care if students talk, browse the web, or play games in class. This ain't grade school or high school, and as long as the talking or playing isn't disrupting the class, a professor shouldn't care what is going on. It is the loss of the students if they don't pay attention in class, not of the professor.

    Having said that, I do agree that laptops should be banned from the classroom, as they ARE disruptive. Hearing the rapid clicking of someone just brainlessly transcribing the course notes is just annoying. If someone is playing solitaire or browsing the web in front of you, it is hard to concentrate when there is obvious distractions. Also, I do believe that the purpose of a lecture it to engage the professor in debate or ask questions, and for the most part, Absorb the information flowing in the room rather then just getting it down on paper.

    When I was in university, by my sophomore year, I stopped taking notes in class, period. I found that by paying attention to what the professor was saying, and understanding the information he was presenting, I learned more and did better in the courses then madly taking down notes that are largely available in your course text.

    Laptops are great educational tools, but leave them out of the classroom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Egat, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:31am

    [i]To try and stifle the use of technology is absurd. We use graphing calculators every day in advanced finance, statistics, calculus, etc. No one would think about going back to writing everything out on paper by hand. The few professors that do force students to do so are doing a disservice. Yes you are teaching a student how to do things, but not in an EFFICIENT manner. As a business student, everything is about efficiency. The efficient use of resources, efficient use of time, etc.[/i]

    Maybe business classes are about efficiency, but science and engineering classes are about learning. Technology has a great potential to come between a student and learning. Almost anyone can graph an equation with a graphing calculator, but to really understand what's going on with it you need to sit down and work it out by hand. Once you understand it there's no reason to do everything by hand, but if you CAN'T do it by hand you haven't learned it.

    I graduated last year. Whenever I saw someone using a laptop in class, without exception, they were just using it to IM or web surf. Why bother going to class? Go to a computer lab to do that. That's what I did if I wasn't going to pay attention in class. If you're not paying attention you shouldn't be there disturbing others with your typing. You're not fooling the professor hiding behind your laptop.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:31am

    Hmm. Interesting. Looks like most of the people responding in defence of laptops never bothered to read the referenced articles to see WHY they were being banned. Strangely, it all makes sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:34am

    Also in the news, just in, mom bans eating on the sofa because kids leave a mess, and dads everywhere ban mp3 players while they yell at their kids for not doing their yardwork.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    james savik, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:42am

    lawyers & technology

    During the late eighties when I was fresh out of school I did consulting work for several law offices.

    At the time the majority of lawyers did not want to use PCs because "we pay our girls to do the typing around here".

    The lawyers that wanted to use PCs were little better. They could not understand why you had to pay for software when they could buy floppy disks by the dozen for next to nothing. Some wanted to buy 1 copy of a program and install it on all of their computers.

    The kicker was when I selected and installed a time/billing system for a law office. It was the best one I could find. One of the lawyers threatened to sue me for incompetence because the software wouldn't allow him to bill for more than 24 hours in a day.

    My experience with lawyers has made me change my consultancy practice to less hazardous clients like Feds, mobsters and bloodthirsty tyrannical dictators.

    JS

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Kaeles, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:43am

    Laptops, doodling, its for a reason.

    Actually, my speech professor prefers if we look somewhat non-attentive, because the majority of college students are in the higher range of intelligence, which means that we can decode around 800 words a minute. Since we CAN do this so quickly, it's actually good to doodle, or daydream a little bit, because it keeps our brain from becoming unfocused and bored from the teacher not going fast enough.
    Sadly I have no link to anything to prove this, but I'm guessing its the same thing that allows me to retain more info when I'm listening to beethoven and reading my books over neural nets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    snapper, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:43am

    I wholeheartedly agree with the ban. You wouldn't allow people to watch television or listen to their ipod in class so why should we allow any other entertainment devices. My daughter (who's 9) has sat in the back of the class while my wife teaches and she sees kids all the time messaging their friends, doing email, surfing the web etc. You're lucky if they actually are taking notes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Peter Robison, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:44am

    An alternative strategy

    Here at Vanderbilt Law they turn off students' wireless internet access during classes. Some professors chose to enable it, but most keep it off so students pay more attention. It can't stop students from playing spider solitaire, but at least it's not so extreme as banning the laptops altogether.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Laptops should be required!!, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:44am

    ever think

    Did you ever think that this generation is really the first generation to bring laptops to class and the old Profs. just plain can't see why anyone would want to use a laptop for note taking. For example my dad is 55 and a Prof. and he will do the old hunt and peck on the keyboard, and I can type 80 wpm so in class I can take much more complete notes than if I was using a pen and paper. I find that I can pay closer attention to the prof. because I am able to look at him or at what he is writing on the white board. I no longer have to try and play catch up with my notes. So with my laptop I have a much easier time studying my typed notes than my hand written ones because they are so much clearer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Logan, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:47am

    Egat, that is not always true. Calculators and laptops don't guarantee a good grade let alone a passing grade. I have had many test where just having a calculator is not enough. A good professor can word problems so that only people that *can* do it on paper, understand how to do it with a calculator.

    But... I need to get back to my studying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Offer something better

    Stop reading their ims and pay attention in class. Or change your seat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    MasterEvilAce, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:49am

    But What About

    What about cheating? A friend of mine used google to answer all his questions. Of course, he had probably 20 points higher on the test than everyone else, but nobody ever said, "HEY WAIT A SECOND." I believe it was open-notes or something. So laptops were usable.

    He apparently doesn't pay much attention in class, but his grades are perfectly fine. He suggests laptops to everyone.

    On the ability of cheating alone.. you're not learning anything. Therefore your test scores don't reflect a laptop hindering you. --Your scores are artifically inflated.

    Just get rid of the laptops--or rather, disable the internet. There's most of the problem gone. Solitaire, minesweeper, and other games are the only things left. And Microsoft Word, of course.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    William Paoli, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:50am

    Old School Technophobes

    A teacher should be able to say- Everyone put down
    your laptops for this discussion, I want everyone to
    focus on what is being said. Pretty simple.

    Its the old school teachers that are just inheriently
    threatened by technology in general. Especially in a
    law class where a student can look somthing up and
    challenge the instructor with intelligent arguements.
    The instructors ego says "Im supossed to be the all
    mighty powerful knowledge holder."

    But really, if the instructor is good, he should
    either be able to embrace the technology or control
    his class to not use it when it isnt appropriate.

    thats what i think.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:51am

    Consider the bandwidth

    The only ban I could see justified by this situation is kicking people off the Wi-Fi network if their goofing off is putting an undue strain on network resources that are needed for legitimate work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Howard, May 3rd, 2006 @ 11:54am

    I'm not a law professor, but...

    I taught programming classes for several private training companies over a 15-year period. One thing I noticed fairly early in my training career was that some folks would be playing solitaire (the internet was not a problem back then...) during my lectures.

    I started deleting all games from the computers whenever I set up for a class, and I noticed two things: 1) it was easier to keep the attention of everyone in the class, and 2) I got significantly better reviews from the students. I mentioned this to other instructors, and before long, the practice spread, and with similar results.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Rob, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:04pm

    Computers in the Classroom

    Hello, I am the 21st century.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Dirtboy, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:05pm

    I am chiming in with a nod to banning laptops in class. When I was in college me and some friends in a class (programming languages) would always bring our laptops. The notes were all on the web, so it was very easy to find any number of distractions on the computer. Time came to stud for the first test and we realized that just having the slides were not enough, we didn't have any context to go with it. Didn't do so well on that test.

    After that, we tried actually listening and taking notes on the laptops. That didn't work out too well. Most of the information that came out from other students asking questions didn't translate too well into the straight line, carriage return, line feed of word processors and notepad. Just try drawing a bracket around 5 lines, drawing an arrow to another bit earlier in the notes, and annotating "This will be on the test". Did better, but still not great on the next test.

    Once we gave up on notebooks, printed out the slides and made our scribbled notes on them our grades improved significantly. We also started asking questions when we didn't understand and having the printed slides with our notes also helped jog our memory and provide context to the subject.

    Thats my experience. It might not be the same for everyone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:06pm

    Re: lawyers & technology

    One of the lawyers threatened to sue me for incompetence because the software wouldn't allow him to bill for more than 24 hours in a day.

    Which brings to mind the story of the 42 year old lawyer who dies and finds himself at the Pearly Gates. The lawyer complains to St. Peter that there has been a mistake and that he's died too young. St Peter says: "There's no mistake. We checked your time dockets and you're at least 83 years old."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    ryan, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:06pm

    Re: I would disagree

    this person is a genious, everyone shoud listen to what hes got to say b/c clearly hes the only one with simply honest genuine common sence

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Moneyguy, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:14pm

    Read the Article

    First: Way to go Wicked!

    Second: Anonymous Coward get's it right - read the article.

    Third: Professors should be able to run their classrooms as they see fit - especially if it enhances debate (good skill for a lawyer, no?), increases attention and avoids distractions. All of which enhance learning - which is the whole point.

    Next people will be griping over their right for a 3rd grader to have Coke served with their lunch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:33pm

    I personally do not really use a laptop in my classess, but I do not see the justification to ban the laptops. This reminds me of the debate over adhd in young children. Automatically it is the child's problem and not the teacher's fault. Kids that get bored of a teacher's classroom activities/lectures automatically assumed to have adhd and need to be hyped up on a version of speed. Really it could just be a boring class. Theses laptop bans are very similar. College students are bored out of their minds during some of their classes so they bring their laptops to do something other than daydream. Which is the same thing as daydreaming or doodling during class. It points right back to the problem that theses professors support: college students are not paying attention. That is why I do not think their is a difference between daydreaming and goofing around on a laptop. I honestly do not think this debate is about students not paying attention in classes, because students do that all the time and nobody ever makes a big deal about those situations. I think that these professors are just mad that they can't get their students to pay attention to their boring classes. They automatically ban laptops and blame the students for a problem that comes right back to the professor. A boring class. I have classes by some professors that are just excellent, and others that are not that great. It all depends on the way the professor runs his/her lectures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Steve, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Achronyms

    IANALS? 'I am not a law student'? 'I ate ninety awul lettuce sandwiches'?

    If this is your idea of communicating, perhaps you don't understand how communication existed before the internet. This is the sort of communication that professors are accustomed to, and the sort that is used in professional settings around the world.

    We may work with laptops and the internet, but these are tools to augment our processes of communication, not subvert them.

    College is about more than taking notes, memorizing data to be tested on, or spending your or your parent's money and potential. It's abbout forming habits and skills that will make you more productive, effective, and therefore hirable, than the kids that didn't go to college. This is obviously not helping any of those causes.

    I went to college, and I lost focus in many classes. Kids can be amazed at their earning potential with online poker to the point of questioning the value of higher education. The fact remains, though, that this practice is just wasting everyone's time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    college student, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:39pm

    Students are paying to go to these colleges just like I am. If I want to waste my time not paying attention and risk losing scholarships or not passing then fine. Its not up to schools to make sure students pass. We arent in highschool, if we want to screw our selves over then let us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Posterlogo, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:45pm

    Ban! (If the professor asks)

    There is a total lack of respect for the instructor in many classrooms these days, and the laptops are just one example. The analysis provided in the summary fails to mention the effect the laptop of a single student can have in disrupting the learning of other students as well as the flow of the instruction from the professor. It is NOT a victemless crime to have distractions like that in the classroom. There is also the well known "invisible" wall or barrier effect. The loss of eye contact is detrimental. Try teaching a class where everyone is behind such a barrier and see how well you think you are getting across. ban them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Pongidae, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:50pm

    Laptop is the modern equivalent of using pen and p

    Get with the times and if you can't adjust get out.
    Now first, to qualify my statements; I am a current university student as well as a teacher and my spouse is a university professor.
    Guess what ... I use a laptop while in class.
    And while I have seen many students play games, e-mail and/or IM is that any different from the modern workplace? If a students grades slip because you're not paying attention in class then there is a built in consequence. The blame could just as easily be placed on the higher education faculty or facility. There are many "professors" who either can't teach or should not be teaching in higher ed. today. There is also the issue of many universities/colleges teaching to the "lower half of the class" and not having the ability to be flexible with more advanced students. Requiring all students to take useless or entry levels classes just to fulfill degree requirements wouldn't it be a better option to challenge a student than to ban their laptops? But that may take too much of the professors time where their actual job is to publish rather than teach students.

    And to a prior comment there are programs to help take notes in class, now while I am not a huge Microsoft supporter, OneNote works well and is specifically geared towards students. You can read their documentation here: http://www.microsoft.com/office/onenote/prodinfo/occupation/education/default.mspx

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Murph, May 3rd, 2006 @ 12:58pm

    I was a law student . . .

    . . . in the early nineties when only a handful of nerds hen-pecked their notes into laptops running Word Perfect 4.0. Those of us less technologically endowed found plenty of other ways ignore the prof; the book rail on a standard law school classroom desk can hide a multitude of sins, including a newspaper, crossword puzzle, or the case book for the next class. Curiously, the laptop users were generally in the lower third of the class, grade-wise. As for me: I didn't learn much in Con Law II, but I got darn good at working crosswords.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    B Crig, May 3rd, 2006 @ 1:32pm

    I agree with the laptop ban. At the least, they should block access to wireless internet during class time. They do this very effectively at Harvard Business School and it does ensure that most people are paying attention. I know it sounds overbearing but it really does work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    fONTENOT, May 3rd, 2006 @ 2:58pm

    NO BAN

    It is clear to me that if a student, especially a law student, finds it more interesting to do anything else than related class work, that the student does not really have a passion for the field of "law". In addition, the student might want possiably re-decide there carrer choice, for I love video games however there is a time and place for everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, May 3rd, 2006 @ 3:51pm

    Re: NO BAN

    Every field I ever studied (except economics) I encountered faculty who were hopeless and not worth listening to even though I loved the particular topic. The topic I loved most and which had the worst faculty as a group was mathematics.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Aidje, May 3rd, 2006 @ 10:16pm

    My experience

    I am a current college student. Hearing something one time in a lecture is not enough for me to remember it. Yes, college is not all about facts, but I do want to remember what I'm taught. It's very helpful to me and increases the value of my education if I can look back at notes after the class. Once I've read back over the notes a few times, then I start remembering things.

    However, I had a horrible experience with paper note-taking before I got my laptop. I cannot write nearly as fast as I can type--not nearly fast enough to write down all that I need to. In fact, I end up in a frenzy of trying to get things written down and as a result am not nearly as engaged with the professor and with the rest of the class. Despite this frenzy, I still don't get things written down and end up having to ask my classmates a lot of questions that they shouldn't have to answer for me. With typing I can go at 80 words a minute with no problem, thus preserving everything I will later forget

    Also, when I'm writing on paper I have to look at what I'm doing. I can take typed notes without ever looking at my computer (this includes even opening the note-taking application, with the aid of tools such as Quicksilver).

    That said, I often see students with their laptops out in class, and I will admit that they are rarely showing good judgment in their use of them. However, it seems rather foolish that their poor judgment should result in me not being able to take advantage of a very helpful technology (there are numerous other benefits in addition to the ones I mentioned, but I don't want to ramble on for too long).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Spartacus, May 4th, 2006 @ 12:50am

    Employees and school fees

    People tend to forget that I PAY for my college classes. That being the case why would the school have the right to tell me what I can or cannot do in the class that I am PAYING for? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't I be able to tell the school that I will be bringing my laptop into class and there's nothing they can do to stop me and if they try I am perfectly within my rights to demand my tuition back? In essence I am employing the school and its professors to teach me a specific skill. If I choose to pay them and then decide that I would rather play online poker than listen to them teach me that skill why would they be able to tell me I cannot do that? It seems ridiculous to me that this might be the case. Poor note taking, distracting, or anything else are all rights of the student in the class. The student is paying for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Moneyguy, May 4th, 2006 @ 5:53am

    Learning & Note taking

    Learning -

    As a business owner and perpetual student (and part-time lecturer) who has experienced the good and bad of the classroom, I have discovered one thing: My attitude determines my attention level and interest. Boring professors are the excuse of a poor attitude or indifference. Are there boring professors? Without a doubt. Am I saying that I bound into every class with excitement? Far from it! But I have noticed that if I decide to enjoy the class, then I enjoy the class - I also ask more questions during the class. If I make no decision before the class, then my indifference usually moves me toward daydreaming or doodling. Hopefully I catch myself during class and reorient myself - afterall I am paying for this.

    Notetaking -

    I've noticed more than a few comments on note taking, the 21st century etc.

    Note taking is a skill that allows you to retain more information. Notice I did not say stenography. If you're going to write (type) down everything the professor says, then get a tape recorder (er, digital recorder for Rob) and go over the lecture at a later time. Note taking is more than copying down every word - sketches, arrows, lines, etc. all help the note taker to recall the classroom material. (I guess the tablet PCs would allow you to do this, but then you're writing and not typing.) Review your notes that evening and your retention rate doubles. Good notetaking is a skill that can be learned but like all things it takes practice. Taking smart notes will let you put less effort into the process with a huge return for that effort.

    In the working world, it's not always possible (or practical) to have a laptop, tablet or PDA available. Get used to pen and paper - it's not going anywhere.

    Finally, the deciding factor on this is the professor. If this professor wants to facilitate discussion & reduce distractions then that's how it goes. Paying for a class does not mean you get to dictate how & when you get to learn. You may pay for the class, but you do not get to tell the professor what to teach, how to teach, what room to hold the class, when the class is held, etc. I'd like to know what "rights" students have? Poor note taking isn't a right, it's a decision and a bad one at that. Being a distraction isn't a "right" either. While we're on the subject of rights, what about my "right" not to be distracted by someone typing on a laptop? What about the responsibility of a student to participate in the class.? After all, you can play poker out in the hall. Anything else is a choice - not a right.

    If I'm paying for the class, then it's my responsibility to get the most out of my money. I sit up front, pay attention, ask questions and take good notes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2006 @ 9:51am

    While some folks may be "abusing" the presence of laptops, don't forget that for those with some types of disability, the laptop makes all the difference. I agree with the others -- make the class and / or the presentation much more interesting. Use interaction. Get the people involved in the class. It can be done even with the most boring of topics.

    The flip side is that I've attended more classes than I care to think about where I really didn't even need to show up -- all I had to do was the reading, homework (if any) and tests, and I'd get an A; but since attendance was 10%, I'd wind up attending...snoooooze...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit m

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit my site !!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit m

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit my site !!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit m

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit my site !!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit m

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit my site !!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit m

    You have a very interesting site... Please visit my site !!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    my

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This