Some Georgetown Profs Want To Ban Laptops In Class

from the get-over-it dept

Some professors at Georgetown University, like some from other schools, are banning students from using laptops in their classes, blaming the devices for students not paying attention in lectures. Lots of students these days use laptops to take notes, and plenty use laptops to amuse themselves during class, particularly with the proliferation of WiFi on college campuses. But it's hard to see how this is really any different than previous generations, who were forced to allay their boredom without electronic devices.

When I was an undergrad, we only had the student newspaper with which to keep ourselves occupied, and the crossword puzzle was a popular pursuit, and I don't remember too many calls from professors to ban the newspaper because of that. If a student doesn't want to pay attention, they're not going to pay attention and be engaged in the class, with or without the laptop; that's no reason for professors to prevent students who use laptops for notetaking or other legitimate pursuits from doing so. Some professors seem really hung up on the idea of forcing people to pay attention and to care about the classes they teach, a feeling I've never really understood. Spending time playing games with uninterested students wastes the time of the interested ones, and if a student is really paying that little attention, it will come back and bite them at some point. Furthermore, if students surfing the web during class is such a huge problem, why are universities installing WiFi networks in classrooms?


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  1.  
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    Dave Barnes, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 9:55am

    Banning Newspapers

    In 1967 I was sitting in the next to last row in the semi-weekly Chemistry 102 lecture (400+ students).
    It was Wednesday and the student newspaper was published on Wednesdays.
    I sat there reading the newspaper until I felt a tap on my shoulder from a professor sitting in the last row. He told me to put the paper down and pay attention.
    I folded the paper and walked out. Never to return to Chem lecture again.
    I did get an A in the class though.

     

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  2.  
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    Andrew, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    I've had a Professor wake me up and tell me that If I was going to sleep in class, i'd have to leave.

    I told him no. I paid for the class so I could spend the time doing as I liked provided it did not disrupt other students. I also informed him that I really was trying to stay awake, but it seems like I was the only one working to make myself doso.

    In a High school setting It is understandable to ban distracting electronic equipment, but when you get to the collegite level where studets are old enough to decide for themselves - let them. If your a professor and your really worried about people not paying attention, how about making your lecture interactive (and therby not a lecture anymore) - Who really lectures to an unintirested crowd anyway?


    (Also perhaps another reason a professor's pay shouldn't be merit based. But we'll leave that for another time)

     

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    Rajio, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    My professors never cared if i did or didn't pay attention. it was MY education on MY dime and MY responsibility. If i cant pay attention, well thats lesson #1 failed, right off the bat.

     

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    RD, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:29am

    But..

    but...but Mike....its the fault of the TECHNOLOGY dont you know? Its not people, or how they use it, the the tech ITSELF! We must always lay blame at the feet of the TOOL not the USER! Its not the sexual predator thats the problem, its the INTERNET! Its FACEBOOK! If it wasnt for this insidious and evil enabling-technology, why there wouldnt BE any predators, right? There wouldnt BE any distractions or boredom in class if not for the MACHINE! Technology CAUSES (CAUSES I SAY) ALL THE EVIL IN THE WORLD!!!!

     

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    Nathania, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Most professors need to make class more interesting. Just getting up and talking about stuff that is already in the expensive book you had to buy is boring.

    No wonder so many are on laptops. I didn't have a laptop in college, and I paid attention to the classes that interested me.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    "In a High school setting It is understandable to ban distracting electronic equipment, but when you get to the collegite level where studets are old enough to decide for themselves - let them."

    You do realize that the difference between a HS student and a college student is frequently nothing more than three months, right?

    My friend described it best, "College is just like high school; except you have to live in your locker."

     

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  7.  
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    scrooks, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re:

    No, there is a much bigger difference between high school and college: college costs the student an arm and a leg and another arm.

    College students are the consumers and they're paying huge dollars to be there. I think both they and the teachers forget that sometimes.

    The professors are essentially employed by the student and shouldn't care what the student does so long as he's not disrupting others.

    On the flip side, if a teacher doesn't show up for a class the students shouldn't get excited that they get an hour and a half off, they should get pissed because they paid for that class and now they're not getting it.

    College is big money and should be treated as such by all involved.

     

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    sehlat (profile), Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:53am

    But... But... Bans Always Work!

    Look at the War on Drugs, Prohibition, Gun Control, ... Nobody has a drug problem anymore, there are no alcoholics anywhere, and nobody's been shot on a college campus where guns were banned in YEARS!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    When I was an undergrad, we only had the student newspaper with which to keep ourselves occupied, and the crossword puzzle was a popular pursuit

    nerd alert!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re:

    >You do realize that the difference between a HS student
    >and a college student is frequently nothing more than
    >three months, right?

    The difference tends to be ages 18, which makes a lot of difference in terms of trying to tell people what they should be doing with their time.

     

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    Paul Warnes, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    Not Haunting

    Of course the real problem may be these are classes that won't come back to bite them latter. That is the real problem, classes that are not only boring but also useless. You know, the ones that you still have to take to be 'well rounded' in your education.

     

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    Jeff De Cagna, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Banning Laptops

    Your article is right on point, and I would add one more observation. I'm willing to bet that most of the professors who want to ban laptops are those who already resent having to teach undergraduates. Perhaps if the professors looked for ways to more effectively engage the students both in class and online, the laptops would become valuable learning tools for both teachers and learners.

     

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    Donna, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    I go to a small school, and my biggest class this semester has 20 people in it, so my opinions may be a bit different from the norm.

    I've had professors tell me that they don't like laptops because they can't tell if their students are paying attention or understanding the material as well when they're using one.

    Plus,I know in some of the classes where I use my laptop for notes, sometimes the people around me get distracted by the noise of me typing and/or what's up on my screen.

    So I don't really see anything wrong with professors banning laptops anymore than I see problems with professors being allowed ban other distractions like cell phones(which are really annoying if they ring in class, even on silent)or to decide on their own grading/attendance/participation policies.

    And excluding wireless from classrooms isn't really reasonable because in most cases that would mean excluding entire buildings from the wireless network, which would massively inconvenience students (since there are frequently study rooms and student lounges in the same buildings as classrooms) for something most people don't consider a problem.

     

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    Gyffes, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    "If your a professor and your really worried about people not paying attention..."


    that's "if you're a professor..."

    Perhaps you should've slept less and paid attention, more?

     

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    Overcast, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:18am

    Oh well, back to doodling!

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Thats america

    Thats what we do in this country, we remove the liberties of everyone in order to protect society from idiots and idiots from themselves.

     

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  17.  
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    Matt, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    bad professors

    Plenty of professors are just plain horrible teachers. They're there because they are the only ones qualified/interested in teaching it.

    On the flip side is bad students too, but it goes both ways. If you can't find a way to make your classes engaging and interesting then you are not doing your duty as a teacher which is not to teach, but to instill the desire to learn in your pupils.

    Is it really that hard to have hands on stuff, or things where people aren't sitting down all day? I mean jesus, some people think its their duty to read a 30 page thesis over the course of an hour and expect students to take notes and not fall asleep.

    There is not a single subject, math, theory and quantum physics included, that is completely hands-off.

    I blame teachers far more than students. Students will fail on their own if they're going to do so. It's important for a teacher to be up with the times on what they're teaching. Also, just because a class involves the basics, doesn't mean there's an excuse to make it boring.

    It's in the same concept as the music industry, same people, same problem: if you don't give a reason for people to have captive interest, then they won't. Period.

    CMU is an amazing school and guess what? Almost 100% of their work is hands on. Many times, the work is real world applying of things and they are now at the foreground of development of new technology as a result. I seem to remember an article the other day about new games being made where the basic "project" for the term was to create your own computer business.

     

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    Kelle, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    Laptops, & texting, & twitters, oh my!

    I'm a teaching assistant at a major Canadian university and our newest campus is totally WiFi. I have no problem with students bringing their laptops to class to take notes, look up articles or current events related to lecture, etc.

    Where I have a problem is when we believe that their typing indicates they are taking notes on the lecture materials or slides, but when we advance to the next slide, the calls come out for, "Can you go back one? I didn't get that all down," especially when there were only three short points on the slide. Or my favourite high-school utterance, "Awwwwww!!!" Really, you couldn't manage to type fifteen words in the five minutes spent discussing it?

    We let students know that it's THEIR responsibility to take their own notes, so if they would rather chat on Facebook/MSN/Twitter or bid on eBay during lecture, they can download the audio recording and listen to it all over again.

     

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  19.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re:

    No!

    The diffrence is that society as a whole is paying for HS students to be schooled; and perhaps one day becomeing a contributing member of society. Every moral effort should be made to force there full participation.

    A college student is paying for an education, if they choose to not take advantage of their purchase that's there prerogative.

     

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  20.  
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    Dave, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:31am

    maybe no regulation needed

    Of course I'm in the minority here, but I think the teachers do have a point. In the modern world, people feel that they absolutely have to answer that text message, and absolutely have to answer their phone. They'll just DIE if they don't. And if the laptop is there, whether the teacher is any good or not, the students will be attempted to screw around with vids, update Facebook, and all that Absolutely Critical stuff they need to do. The more devices we have, the more airheaded we become as we use them all at once.

    On the other hand, this shouldn't necessarily be regulated. There's a really easy way to take care of this, and that is to simply give an F for poor performance, which is likely to result if you're not paying attention. If somebody still can perform well without paying attention, more power to them. And there are many classes that actually do use the internet, so banning wifi in college isn't the answer, either.

     

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  21.  
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    Dave, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:36am

    time honored tradition

    Some things never change. It's fascinating how whenever a student does poorly, it's always the stupid, boring, teacher's fault.

    It's never the student's fault. They are just innocent victims of the evil teachers.

    This is hilarious!

     

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  22.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:37am

    Re: bad professors

    I agree with you on a HS level. But not a college. Most undergraduate classes consist of items and topics that someone could teach themselves in the same time period of the class.

    The Point of having a teacher is to verify that someone was actually exposed to and learned the information. And to have someone available that understands the information well enough to break it down in the case of confusion, or to elaborate on the intricacies of a subject in order to foster better understanding.

    In college, its not the teachers job to be interesting, but to explain the information in an understandable manner. I agree that A "Hands on/ interactive" learning environment is better than a lecture/text book one(in most cases, some people learn differently than others). But College is big business, nothing more, nothing less.

     

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    Ryan, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:44am

    too easy

    Most of the time I spent in college not paying attention was because the class was too easy.

    My 400 level web development class for example - I did all of the assignments and the final project in the first 2 hour lecture, and got an A on them. We'd have to do presentations and such, and for some reason attendance counted, so I'd show up and play desktop tower defense.

    Same for Discreet math. The room was basically a faraday cage, so I stopped bringing my laptop. I'd eat breakfast than sleep. The professors would snake around the room with each question he asked. when it was my turn he'd wake me up, and I'd answer the question before going back to bed.

    The problem here isn't laptops, it's boring and easy classes.

     

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  24.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    You make a point.

    But i believe that at a certain point in life you need to learn how to handle certain things. If you get so distracted by typing or a flashy screen that you can't continue to function, your going to live a really hard life! The same is true with cell phone ringing, they aren't reasonably banned from classrooms because no one could possibly function with a cell phone going off, but because its just ridiculously rude.

    Its a matter of common curtsy. How much more distraction is the ring of a cell phone than a load sneeze or cough.

     

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  25.  
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    jmzrbnsn (profile), Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Re:

    I guess they didn't teach the use of apostrophes or spelling at your college. You're not a credit to your alma mater.

     

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    Kevin, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Laptops are not evil

    Perhaps the simplest solution here is to assign the last 3 rows of a lecture hall to students with laptops. Provide wireless, power outlets, printer access, network access with notes in audio format, word docs, slide, etc. If they decide to goof off, go for it. Let em all have a WOW tournament in the back if they want. With lectures halls of 100+ people who really cares. I know that when I attended a traditional college I always made it a point to sit in the back, off to one side so as not to annoy my fellow classmates. We all have the right to a distraction free learning environment. Common courtesy can go along way.

     

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  27.  
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    Rick, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Teachers: DO YOUR OWN JOB

    It's the teachers job to teach the students and GRADE them for their accomplishments.

    It's the students job to learn.

    If they don't learn, they get poor grades.

    If the teacher doesn't want to grade a student on their performance, why are they teaching? The fact that some students use laptops in calls is THEIR choice, making it harder for them is not the way to get them to learn.

     

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  28.  
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    usmcdvdg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    Re: Banning Newspapers

    You should have said no, I've paid for the right to be here. When you say something I'm interested in listening to I'll listen to it.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

    Re: But..

    lol

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    Re:

    That is how my Accounting class is but the thing is my expensive book is my laptop. I saved over $100 by getting a digital copy that is available on a web page. Now in class I can't follow along with the book since it has been baned, not just in my class but the whole department.

     

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  31.  
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    Ryan, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    back row

    I don't have a problem with people being distracted in class, I just have a problem with them distracting other students. I would force all laptop users to sit in the back of class so that they don't distract the other students.

     

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  32.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re: back row

    I agree with you in principle

    except in this day and age, its not unreasonable expect someone to be able to pay attention while ignoreing a screen. Ever try driving through times square?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Can't the prof grow some balls and say something to the student who is making a distraction. If they're not paying attention then ask the student a question and put them on the spot. This ain't rocket science...

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Banning Newspapers

    I folded the paper and walked out. Never to return to Chem lecture again.

    Then you did the right thing. You still passed the class and you weren't there distracting the other students who wanted to be there.

     

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  35.  
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    DS, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re:

    The difference is that some students are adults, and some are brats. You can usually tell the difference based on who wrote the check.

     

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    Anonymous Troglodyte, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    Laptops Nie!

    My wife teaches and my daughter has sat in the back of the room many times and watched students surf the web looking at sailboats, IM their friends, and do anything except take notes. It's distracting and disrespectful. Sure you could show your boredom and dullness any number of ways, computers just make it easier. Its like bringing a TV to class.

     

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  37.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    How is reading a newspaper any more distracting than reading the textbook, or staring at the teacher. God, does this entire country lack common since.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:43pm

    Re:

    What if the class was rocket science?

     

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  39.  
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    Student, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    If I'm paying for the class, why do they care if I pay attention as long as my check clears ?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    Most of it, yes.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "No, there is a much bigger difference between high school and college: college costs the student an arm and a leg and another arm."

    I guess you've never seen the price of some private high schools then. And the public school property taxes can be significant is some places too.

    "College students are the consumers and they're paying huge dollars to be there."

    Ditto for some high school students. You're still not making any points.

    "I think both they and the teachers forget that sometimes."

    I think that some students forget that there are other students in class too, sometimes.

    "The professors are essentially employed by the student and shouldn't care what the student does so long as he's not disrupting others."

    Ahh, but that's the point. Who says what's disruptive? The professor. And if the professor thinks that people clacking away on keyboards, playing videos and games and such in class is disruptive, then so be it. I've even seen professors tell classes to put their paper notebooks away. You're paying for the privilege to attend that class, not to run it. There is a difference.

    "On the flip side, if a teacher doesn't show up for a class the students shouldn't get excited that they get an hour and a half off, they should get pissed because they paid for that class and now they're not getting it."

    You must be thinking about high school again. Attendance in all my college classes was optional (the profs never even conducted roll calls). The only time I've ever seen college students glad that a prof didn't show up was when there was an exam scheduled, and even then some of them were upset.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    You should have said no, I've paid for the right to be here.


    You paid for the right to attend the class, not disrupt it.

     

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  43.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    How in Gods name does reading disrupt a class? Please Please Please explain this logic to me.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    I am paying for the class and if your boring me to no end then I will be damned if you tell me I cant use my laptop. Your getting paid regardless of how well I do in your class so stfu and teach your damn boring lecture!
    I honestly believe its the class size of most modern colleges that is one of the biggest problems since there is almost no student-teacher interaction it gets boring fast. That is part of the reason I chose to go do a college such as DeVry where in a class of 15 students the teacher knows you by name, makes the whole class interactive and fun, and I learn a whole hell of a lot more.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    How is reading a newspaper any more distracting than reading the textbook, or staring at the teacher.

    Huh? You really can't imagine such a thing? You've got to be kidding me. College students can be very creative that way. Constantly folding, unfolding it, holding it up so people behind them can't see past, etc., etc.. There are many ways. But it's not up to you to decide. It's up to the instructor. Just because you paid tuition doesn't make you his "boss".

    God, does this entire country lack common since.[sic]

    Talk about a lack of common sense.

     

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  46.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As stated below



    If a kid goes to a private HS then it is there parents lose, and they would probably expect there kids teachers to make some effort to enforce there participation. In the case of public school The difference is that society as a whole is paying for HS students to be schooled; and perhaps one day becoming a contributing member of society. Every moral effort should be made to force there full participation.

    College is no different than paying for to see a ridiculously expensive movie and then being tested on it. If you choose to read a book during the movie that's your right. If your talking on the cell phone, someone will eventually tell you to leave. The professor doesn't say whats disruptive, It does have an actual definition that is not as open to interpretation as you believe. It's not the Professors class, it's the students. A college student is paying for an education, if they choose to not take advantage of their purchase that's there prerogative.

     

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  47.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    First of all. once again it's a common since point. We should ban text books because you COULD flip the pages fast and read it held up in the air, right? Be real, no one would do this and if they did they would be asked to leave because they were being distracting, and were obviously retarded.

    But quietly reading a paper is in no way distracting, and as the customer you are the boss in principal at least. There are terms to the contract you agreed to when you purchased the service of being taught in a class; but you have certain rights in a college setting, one of which is to attend your class providing only you don't violate official school rules or degrade the others right to paying attention. Which in this case didn't happen! Teachers can't just make up ruls as they go along!

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    How in Gods name does reading disrupt a class?
    Who said that just reading did? You conveniently left out the "newspaper" part, didn't you? When I was in college, that kind of stunt in a debate was called "intellectual dishonesty" and was usually used by someone who realized that their position couldn't stand on it's own honestly.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    OMG ok

    How in Gods name does reading a newspaper disrupt a class?
    How in Gods name is reading a newspaper any different than reading a text book.

    Listen I'm willing to admit that a kid playing with his newspaper can be distracting and should be asked to leave. But that's not the discussion we're haveing, and not what the original poster said was happening.

    And in my day when someone abandons common since and over complicates an issue, or attempts to dance around semantics, we call that dumb.

     

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    Anonymous12, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    To the person who said they should be able to sleep. NO.
    First, paid class or not, teachers have absolute discretion on conduct in their classroom, providing they're not asking you to do something illegal. Second, even if the teacher couldn't force you to leave the room, by you doing so in the CLASS (A PLACE TO "LEARN") as opposed to say a BED (A PLACE TO "SLEEP") makes you a class-A jerk by 90% of people's definition of rude. Please get a clue.


    b. Lacking education or knowledge; unlearned.
    (source: thefreedictionary.com/rude)

    You were sleeping, so you couldn't learn.

    On the subject of laptop bans, I don't see it being reasonable to ban them, but if I heard you typing all the time, and then constantly asking me to repeat myself, I'd laugh in your face.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re:

    How much more distraction is the ring of a cell phone than a load sneeze or cough.
    I can't believe you asked that. No, wait, considering your other comments, I can. But to answer the question in a word: much. The ensuing conversation is even worse. Now before you go off with "how much worse is listening to a cell phone conversation than a boring professor" or something like that, let me remind you that the other students aren't there to listen to you chat with your buds and it's not their fault if they're just "too easily distracted".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    There's about 10 of you in every class. They are a nuisance to dedicated students.
    And I fully realize that you will never understand my point.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    Erroneous, A teacher does not have absolute discretion over conduct in a class governed by legality alone. And I would challenge you to find a code of ethics or student code of conduct for a UNIVERSITY that said anything near that. A teacher can ask you to leave but if you refuse they can take it up with the school board, or campus security depending on the severity of the case. The school rules will be consulted and decision will be made. If you don't like your schools rules you can always switch schools or claim they are illegal for one reason or another and sue.

    But to imagine a teacher as an all powerful god inside of a class room is just retarded. And to expect an adult not to demand certain rights after forking over 10's or 100's of thousands of dollars is too.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No wonder students in USA are dumber than a box of nails these days. Just look at what you are arguing for.

     

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  55.  
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    SteveD, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Maybe its the American University system thats at fault?

    I know someone studying Law here in the UK, currently doing a year of specialised study at an American University.

    While studying in the UK she made a habit of skipping many lectures (as students tend to do), but upon reaching the US discovered that the penalties for doing so without good cause generally meant being dropped from the particular module.

    So instead she dutifully goes to every single one of her lectures...and spends the whole time on facebook.

    The result seems to be lecture halls crowded with students with no real interest in learning, and I can't say I blame the lecturers for finding the students rude and the situation frustrating.

    The moral of this story is simply, you can lead a horse to water but not make her drink.

     

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    hegemon13, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nice way to set up a strawman. He never said anything about the ensuing conversation, which in five years of college, I NEVER heard happen. You added that yourself, then argued against it. Good job, you negated yourself, but you did nothing to actually argue against usmcdvldg.

    As far as a cell phone ring being more distracting, it depends entirely on the phone. They are usually louder, but easily ignored if you have the self-discipline to do so.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Undergrads

    Most of these comments illustrate why undergraduate degrees aren't taken very seriously by professionals - since the 60's they're the new "High School" diploma. "Entertain me!", "Make it more interesting!", "It's my money!" - Please. Go play with your Wii.

    When you apply to a Master's or Doctoral degree program you are asking to be taken seriously. And in many cases, if you do well on your GRE, have a good academic record and good letters of support, you can get an assistanceship; you get to work in your chosen field as a research or teaching assistant in return for your tuition and a stipend, usually enough to live on as a student. And you start to get taken seriously by other professionals.

    Undergraduate education has been dumbed down so far that a student has to work hard at not getting a passing grade. And you wonder why professional academics hate to be stuck trying to educate a room full of dull, young minds?

    There is a world out there that many of you will never know; the world of educated people. Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. For the rest of you, ask the Asian kid trying to teach you "Intro to Calc" what his academic experience has been like. It will be an eye opener for you. I doubt it will change you, but it might give you some perspective on what it takes to become "educated".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    Listen I'm willing to admit that a kid playing with his newspaper can be distracting and should be asked to leave. But that's not the discussion we're haveing, and not what the original poster said was happening.

    From the original comment, "I sat there reading the newspaper until I felt a tap on my shoulder from a professor sitting in the last row. He told me to put the paper down and pay attention." Notice the "newspaper" part and the "put the paper down" part? You know, that's the thing about Techdirt, the comments are there for everybody to see. It makes it kind of hard to deny them. But if you're going to stoop that low, I'm not wasting my time with you any more.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:12pm

    I'm reading this on my laptop in class right now.

     

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  60.  
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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    You don't have a point.

    Please continue, I'm very intrigued on where this line of logic will go seeing as how you are so adamant about it. And how I so obviously lack common since. Please attempt to defend your position with debate instead of argument. You never know, I might learn something.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous12, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:17pm

    @ usmcdvldg - Granted, the legaility is questionable. Notice that's why I included the SECOND part of my point (which you conveniently IGNORED BTW):

    Second, even if the teacher couldn't force you to leave the room, by you doing so in the CLASS (A PLACE TO "LEARN") as opposed to say a BED (A PLACE TO "SLEEP") makes you a class-A jerk by 90% of people's definition of rude. Please get a clue.


    b. Lacking education or knowledge; unlearned.
    (source: thefreedictionary.com/rude)

    You were sleeping, so you couldn't learn.

    On the subject of laptop bans, I don't see it being reasonable to ban them, but if I heard you typing all the time, and then constantly asking me to repeat myself, I'd laugh in your face.


    If the "USMC" part of your handle implies US Marine Corp. then you have much to answer to here. An honorable person doesn't sleep through his education and then make excuses about it. Spare me.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes your right, a conversion in a class room would be retarded whether it involves a phone or not.

    What I meant was just the ring, there are many teachers that will make a huge deal over phones not being on silent. Some will stop class itself and make much more of a distraction than a ring ever would. The ring is not that distracting, especially if the person turns it off right way. But it's taboo, not because its distracting but because it is rude.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nice way to set up a strawman. He never said anything about the ensuing conversation,...
    I never said he did. Hey look, you set up your own straw man!
    ...which in five years of college, I NEVER heard happen.
    That's probably because most students know better, but how many classes did you have with usmcdvldg? You're not one and the same, are you?

    (Is usmcdvldg supposed to be short for United States Marine Corps Devil Dog?)

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Undergrads

    You probably don't believe me, but I agree with you 100%. Although you could be a little less elitist. Every think that maybe someone could be frustrated with being forced to spend a shit load of money to get a piece of paper that don't mean shit, and represents something they could accomplish on there own in a couple of weekends.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Re: time honored tradition

    no the fault lies on both, there are shitty students who just want to goof off, and there are shitty profs who have no right to teach. the road goes both ways.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    Neither do you, it seems, except to prove you're a bonehead. It's clear you've never been to college, based on your completely head-up-the-ass view of how college classrooms work.

    Most colleges (not all) treat students as students. They are not the boss of any professor, and they are not "customers." And the instructor is in charge of the classroom, so they do indeed get to make the rules in their own classroom or lecture hall. I've had instructors who insisted we sit in assigned seats; although most of us found it rather juvenile, we obeyed because we were obligated to, per the rules of the University. Students aren't in charge of classrooms, simply because that would lead to total anarchy. You simply can't have everyone in the room doing whatever the hell they please. It IS the professor's class, like it or not, and the professor alone is in charge, not the students.

    usmcdvldg, I suggest you actually GO TO a college, maybe spend some time seeing how colleges and universities actually operate, and maybe learn English as a first language. It's just common SENSE. Maybe you'll learn the difference between their, they're and there, and you're and your, too. Speculating from a position of ignorance doesn't look good on you.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    Re:

    Your right, I did ignore your second part. I agree with it except I wouldn't call them a jerk though, maybe more like idiots for wasting there own time.


    But most importantly I haven't slept through an education, and if i did, I sure as hell wouldn't complain or make excuses about it. I was commenting on principal alone. I have been to many lower level classes that I didn't need to go to but went just encase the teacher mentioned something out of book that I didn't already know. usually I'd sit quietly in the back and text friends or surf the internet on my phone. And if someone told me I couldn't do that in a useless class i was paying thousands of dollars for just so i could move on, I'd tell them to shove it up there *ss.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    Yes your right, "put the down" isn't a common phrase used to tell someone to stop messing with something. The original poster was obviously, intentionally, conveying the FACT that he was holding the paper up in the air distracting everyone, despite the fact he said "In 1967 I was sitting in the next to last row" out of everyone's view."


    Christ you idiot; remember this sentence,
    And in my day when someone abandons common since and over complicates an issue, or attempts to dance around semantics, we call that dumb.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    It's obvious to me you've only actually been to community college or some sad sorry excuse for a university.

    Assigned seating is not the same thing as we're discussing, and yes you can't do anything you want in a class. If you actually did goto college then I'm sure there were some provisions in the rules of the institution(I say this because I doubt it was a reputable university) you attended for this.

    Or perhaps the teacher got away with not treating you as an adult simply because you lacked the balls to assert yourself. Point being of the two Universities I have attended I was treated as an adult both times! Had I not been I would have switched universities.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    Also, I couldn't care less about spelling on tech dirt, try arguing your point not around it. But you don't seem to care much about it either?

    There's about 10 - there are not there is

    And it's also interesting that you switched from "newspapers are distracting" to a teach can do whatever he wants. This simply isn't true and isn't worth debating. I'm still interested in hearing about newspapers being distracting.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    ...he said "In 1967 I was sitting in the next to last row" out of everyone's view."

    Hmm, the version of Techdirt I'm getting here doesn't show that "out of everyone's view" part of the original comment at all. In fact, it specifically mentions someone sitting behind him instead. If wonder if Mike knows that different versions of Techdirt are going out to different readers. He ought to get that fixed right away.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    Your right!!!!, He was, there was a professor sitting behind him and he was holding the newspaper high in the sky, geeze, how did I never figure this out!

    And in my day when someone abandons common since and over complicates an issue, or attempts to dance around semantics, we call that dumb.

     

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    GJ, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 4:04pm

    My old math teacher

    When I was in University (around 1991), there was one math professor (taught us about Turing machines actually... good times) who made a big stink about these digital watches beeping on the hour (in the middle of class).

    He was way ahead of his time, because I don't know of any modern digital watch that announces the hour with a beep any more.

    --GJ--

     

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    Tom the Bomb, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 4:14pm

    Paid w/ blood sweat and tears

    Ok, after having read this thread I have to leave my perspective on this because I REALLY despise the idiotic views that a teacher is a master of his/her classroom. I am in total agreement where college (Grad & Undergrad) is a contractual agreement where I am the Customer and the University/College/Whatever is the Contractor providing the service. Since I am paying them money they better teach me something to meet that contractual agreement that they and I agreed to. If I decide to bring a computer to class to take notes, verify what the prof said, play Left 4 Dead, or whatever that is my prerogative along with every other student who is also attending the class. Now common-sense would dictate that I not be a bother to other students since they are in the same kind of contractual agreement with the Educating Entity. However, if some professor comes over and tells me to stop my activities when they are not bothering anyone else s/he and I will have words because I will definitely get in his/her face right there in class.

    Like USMCDVLDG up above, I have served in the military and recognize that there is a chain of command I can use and I would take that professor and go talk to those people above him or her, especially since said knuckleberry is working for me in essence and not the other way around. I am not a child and this is not 13th-20th grade of extended high school where s/he can act as a little dictator in his/her classroom. Especially since I am more likely than not paying a metric dooky-ton of money for the class.

    To you haters up above regarding the teacher's side, I've been there and realize that if a person does not want to participate in a class, let them take themselves out. They will either rectify their learning gaps or be self-eliminated because of their underwhelming attention to class and details. Once again, it is about business, and the university is no different than any other business out there. Meet your contractual agreement or refund my money.
    Nuff Said and quit yer bitchin' about it. Now get back to studying!
    Tom La Bomba

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 8:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    Yah, "Semper Fi" apparently doesn't sit too well with usmcdvldg. I doubt if he/she is a marine. Even if ex-marine, I can see why he/she is ex now.

     

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  76.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Paid w/ blood sweat and tears

    "If I decide to bring a computer to class to take notes, verify what the prof said, play Left 4 Dead, or whatever that is my prerogative along with every other student who is also attending the class."

    absolutely agree. for instance, if i want to surf porn and beat my meat right there in class, then that's my prerogative. kinda like a "combat jack". i'm paying for that class and the other students don't have to watch me if they don't want to. if they can't just ignore me then that's their problem for being so easily distracted.

    "However, if some professor comes over and tells me to stop my activities when they are not bothering anyone else s/he and I will have words because will definitely get in his/her face right there in class."

    got to agree again. especially if i was just about to get a nut. then i'd be really pissed.

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 8:59pm

    You get what you pay for...

    I would love to know what kind of class you can attend in college make passing grades while reading the paper. That aside, my professors had an easy way of dealing with people who were doing things other than paying attention: they called on those people more often.

    After you have been called on several times in the course of not paying attention and been unable to answer, you start realizing that you are not getting what you paid for. If you really feel you must play solitaire in class, why bother to go at all? Oh, yeah. Many colleges automatically boot you out of a class if you neglect to attend.

     

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    Jebus, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 9:11pm

    Heavy woolen socks and thick carpeting

    ...zap

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Feb 12th, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    The Right Use of Computers in Teaching.

    The class at Georgetown seems to have been a history class. If you look at the ways people use computers constructively in history teaching, it might go something like this. There's a reading assignment for every class, presumably available on the internet if necessary, and each student is expected to write a little note of some kind about the reading assignment, and submit it two hours before class time, via E-mail, or whatever. They get docked a point if they're late. That means the teacher has time to look at the responses, and compile salient points into a hand-out. It also insures that even if the students are running a bit behind, as undergraduates will, they at least come to class prepared. The teacher can then lead a discussion about the different interpretations people have reached. This is a modified form of the classic graduate reading seminar, adapted for undergraduates with shorter attention spans, etc. In short, you use the internet to handle the administrative mechanics of setting up a debate. Of course you adjust the length and number of classes to reflect the kind of students you have-- taking a seminar class is a lot harder work than taking a lecture class.

    The liberal arts graduate school norm, in a subject like History, or English, or Philosophy, or Anthropology, is that, in the first year of graduate school (the boot camp), the students take one two-hour seminar class a day, with an enrollment of 10-20 students, (a total workload of 60-70 hours/week, mostly reading); and then, in the second year, they move to one seminar class a week, while writing master's theses. First year law students, by contrast, take two classes a day, but the classes are bigger, and therefore less demanding. Either of these would of course have to be watered down for undergraduates, but the key word is _watered down_. The same kind of stuff, only not so much of it.

    Incidentally, as a principle of ethics, PowerPoint is not a terribly good idea. If the teacher doesn't think things are important enough to write them out on the chalkboard each time, and doesn't want to make a hand-out sheet, it is not really fair to expect the students to write them down by hand.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 13th, 2009 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    LOL, when someone goes completely of point and resorts to personnel attacks alone, you know you've won.

     

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    Rick Sarvas, Feb 13th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    -

    Personally, I don't think the laptops should be banned, but I do understand the motivation behind this. Really, it all comes down to respect for the person teaching the class - even if they are boring as hell. I don't understand why the profs just don't ask the laptops be closed for the lecture portion of the class and bounce those that don't comply from the class.

    ...And to those of you that have responded along the lines that it is your "God Given Right" to entertain yourselves in the face of boring presenters/instructors, you might want to consider that this type of behavior can get you fired in corporate America. You may as well learn to deal with it now.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Feb 13th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    Re: -

    in regards to your first part, they don't just ask because there not all powerful kings of their classroom. They know if they did this, something akin to my earlier post would happen, and after the school rules were consulted, the laptops would stay. So they must get the rules(terms of contract) changed, which except for reasons of safety, generally only happen at the beginning of semesters.


    In regards to part two, absolutely, Anything but full attention in a company meeting would be professional suicide. But if you've never been to a meeting where the ceo/president/manager/ however is in charge was talking on their cell phone, having a side conversation or just plain ignoring you, I would suggest you actually spend some time in corporate America before you comment on it. Guess what, he who signs the checks..................

    The difference is the company is paying you as opposed to you paying the school.

    Again, not to say that in a class you can do WHATEVER you want, but as an adult who has entered into one of, if not the biggest financial contract of your life, you do have some (legal/moral as opposed to god given) rights.

     

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    magnafides, Feb 13th, 2009 @ 8:21am

    ...happens in law school as well

    My wife is currently a student at Florida State Law, and has to deal with this on an increasing basis. It is my belief that since we're paying good money for tuition, she should be able to do whatever she wants in class as long as it isn't disruptive.

    Aside, this kind of thing can lead to some very serious problems: in one case, 90+ students' internet connections were erroneously blocked for multiple days; in another case, my wife could not access the internet on her WORK computer because she was working during the original scheduled class period (which was rescheduled) and the block is tied to your school login ID, NOT just wireless access.

    If a school is going to implement this kind of blocking, they better hire some competent techs to manage it.

     

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  84.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2009 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: bad professors

    Presumably, you taught yourself spelling, punctuation and grammar. Fine job you did, too.

    I love this thread -- the loudest guy on here (or, in your words, the "load"est guy) is clearly the least educated. Are you spitting on yourself while you type this drek?

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2009 @ 11:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Banning Newspapers

    LOL, when someone goes completely of point and resorts to personnel attacks alone, you know you've won.

    You should have known that you had already lost when you resorted to lying. Especially when everyone could see that you were.

    And in my day when someone abandons common since and over complicates an issue, or attempts to dance around semantics, we call that dumb.

    So, the truth is just a matter of "semantics" for you, huh? No kidding. And by the way, it really takes a special kind of "dumb" to tell whoppers like you do when everyone can read what was really written for themselves.

    You do know that you can't erase these archives, don't you? So what are you going to do, nymshift?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: -

    "...there not all powerful kings of their classroom."

    No, they are not and nobody claimed that they were. They cannot order people executed or anything like that that "all powerful" kings can. But that's not what were talking here about so put that strawman back in your closet.

    Schools do though let instructors eject disruptive students from the classroom. And they don't even attempt to list every possible disruptive behavior and variation thereof beforehand; to do so would be impossible and foolish. Instead, they leave it up to the instructor. If a student really thinks that an instructor is being unreasonable then they can appeal to administration and see how they get with them (but I've never seen this go in the student's favor). So, in the absence of some administrative override, the instructor determines what is disruptive to the class. As far as "getting up in the instructor's face and having words with them" is concerned, that's a good way to get the campus police involved, and not in a way that you're likely to like either. Getting up in people's faces may have worked for you in the marines, but civilized society is different. You really ought to work on those anger management issues before you wind up in a cell.

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Programmer, Feb 17th, 2009 @ 7:34am

    Re: You get what you pay for...

    lets see, here are some reasons people can ace classes they take without paying attention in lectures

    classes that you took in high-school or a different college that didn't transfer

    classes that you taught yourself stuff in your free time (really common in programming classes where once you know the concepts each language is pretty much the same)

    Classes that are very similar to other subjects you already know. (if you know behavioral psychology then sociology is a walk in the park)

    general requirement classes that most people already know (intro to computers, things like that)

     

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  88.  
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    Anonymous Programmer, Feb 17th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re: The Right Use of Computers in Teaching.

    Incidentally, as a principle of ethics, PowerPoint is not a terribly good idea. If the teacher doesn't think things are important enough to write them out on the chalkboard each time, and doesn't want to make a hand-out sheet, it is not really fair to expect the students to write them down by hand.

    I disagree, you can cover a lot more if you don't have to take time to write it down, it depends on the professor to properly take advantage of it though.

    the Professor should also give a copy of the presentation to the students or make it available online

     

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

  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Programmer, Feb 17th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    Re: -

    ...And to those of you that have responded along the lines that it is your "God Given Right" to entertain yourselves in the face of boring presenters/instructors, you might want to consider that this type of behavior can get you fired in corporate America. You may as well learn to deal with it now.

    there is a difference between being paid to do something (IE a job) and paying someone else to give you information (school). if they are going to grade on performance and going over stuff that I know, I reserve the right to read or do anything else I want in class as long as I am not disrupting other students.

    If the Profs don't like that then they shouldn't grade on attendance or they should have more interesting course material.

     

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

  90.  
    identicon
    angel, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:06pm

    HELLO

    hello..this is angel visiting first time to this site and find it very interesting. ----------- angel Laptop Computers

     

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

  91.  
    identicon
    mcfloat, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 5:42am

    I believe that if Laptops are banned all the students would react and it would be a big issue to them. For it is their easiest way of saving lectures.

     

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

  92.  
    identicon
    doodle, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    llamas

    I like llamas!!!

     

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


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