Laptops in the Classroom 28 Jun 2013
The online edition of the Diamondback on 2 October 12 published two opinion pieces by Lauren Mendelsohn and Maria Romas. Ms. Mendelsohn found the use of laptops distracting to her classmates who use them and even to herself, who doesn’t. Ms. Romas, on the other hand, declares that this is the digital age and F2F educational settings need to incorporate these tools. Both writers note that some professors bar laptops in their classrooms.
I do see both sides of the debate. Like Ms. Mendelsohn, I am a ‘pen and paper gal.’ Yes, my notes can be illegible to anyone but me, but I’m the one that needs to read them. I type quickly (showing my age here), but not nearly as quickly as I can take notes manually. I also see how all of those glowing monitors could be distracting or even make it hard to focus on the screen or whiteboard at the front.
On the other hand, I agree with Ms. Romas that college students are adults and if they choose to sit in class and shop for shoes or play Farmville, that is their prerogative (although if I’m the parent paying the tuition and I find out that that is why my child earned a sub-par grade, I would NOT be happy). Wi-Fi access could certainly enhance a lecture situation for students looking to get their money’s worth through the many interactive tools available.
Where does the answer lie? I propose that each student be responsible for him- or herself but that another student’s right to distract him/herself ends where it interferes with those around them. This leads to Ms. Mendelsohns’ closing suggestion – us dinosaurs in front, those dedicated to the coursework in the middle, and the multitaskers in the back.