Friday, March 11, 2011

Laptops In Class

One of the greatest tools I have ever used in school is my laptop. Hands down. The ability to keep all my schoolwork, all my music, all my entertainment in one portable place is invaluable to me.

Opponents of laptop use in schools always say that laptops are more of a distraction than a tool. And while I'd like to say that that's a total falsehood, sadly, it's not. I'm the first to admit the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools to get through a boring lecture. However, I still take copious notes, and audio recordings of lectures, enough so to submit them to the school note-taking service and get paid. However, the problem arises when students pay no attention, and only play online for the entire lecture. Upon seeing this, Teachers react in different ways, some simply ignoring it, while others impose strict rulings. One professor at the University of Missouri "bans laptops in her large lecture courses", and says this has led to "Huge increases in attention and better performance on exams" (Bugeja, Michael. "The Age of Distraction") While I'm sure that a strict ban like that may benefit some students, It would not surprise me at all if other students suffered. I know I would.

I see bans like that as a real limit on a student's independence. Especially in college. Students are paying for the courses, and the professor's not required to guarantee them success. I regularly attend class to see a room only half filled, even though the 200+ person roster is full with waitlist. What's the difference between attending class and not paying attention, and just not attending at all? I guess my point is that If students don't care about a course, They won't do well. While it may be beneficial to some students to have a ban on laptops, I believe it can be detrimental to others. My belief is that in a college atmosphere, it should be solely up to the students to manage their distractions. If they can't handle the distractions, then it's their problem, not the schools. As my chemistry professor Dr. Richard Nafshun commented to a half empty lecture hall, "There's one customer that you can always count on to be happy about being ripped off: A student." I think that this, while it really shouldn’t be true, exemplifies the problem. Students of today are so immersed in their own wants that they no longer pay enough attention to their education.

1 comment:

  1. Well thought out, and honest. College is not high school; students are spending scarce dollars to acquire an education; universities should not put up roadblocks. If some students are willing to throw away their money by wasting their time, it is their right; don't punish students who want to maximize their education for the failures of the slackers.

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