Sunday, February 15, 2009

The choice is clear for me: laptop for notes only, Facebook can wait.

It is hard to believe, but the debate over computers in the classroom continues to rage. Starting with the Fall 07 semester, I've given an extra credit assignment asking students to write a short paper on the topic. The question they answer is "Should computers be banned?" Not surprisingly, a strong majority say "no". But 28% say "yes"! Let's look at their arguments:
"I know that as a student I should probably be for the use of wireless laptops in the classroom, but I know what really goes on during class." (AY)

"In my opinion, the classroom is a time for students to engage with each other. After all, isn’t the basis of an academic classroom to share, evaluate, and challenge each other’s ideas?" (MH)

"As a student...I see it all the time – students are focused on their laptops more than engaging themselves in the classroom discussion. Personally, I feel cheated out of my academic experience...{when} students would rather check their newsfeed than listen to what their classmates have to say." (MH)

"This is not high school anymore. Students come to class for their own benefits and should be able to decide how best to make use of their time" (MV)

"Turning off Internet access in the classroom will not magically transform an easily distracted or bored student into an active participant. There are many ways a student can distract themselves from a lecture in an Internet-free classroom, like doodling, passing notes or daydreaming. Does that mean we ban notebook paper next?" (AM)

"I feel that if the student is paying for their education, have their own laptop, and wish to surf the internet during their class than it is their right to do so." (J)

"By restricting access professors are serving as babysitters instead of instructors." (AM)

"I...find it to be distracting, whether I am personally distracted by own computer and the opportunity to play solitaire, or if it is from another student watching an episode of their favorite show." (AH)

"....students focus better when they do not have the “world” at their fingertips." (P)

"I approach every class with the same materials: a notebook and a pen." (Y)

"If the internet were not available to students they could focus better on the lecture. Although they might be busy doodling or sleeping, there is a greater chance of the student paying attention to the teacher if they don’t have computers distracting them." (J)
What do you think? Should computers be banned?

1 comment:

shanna leonard said...

I am a returning grad student. A few of my classes are rehash of old material. When an instructor is inadequately covering material (In my opinion.) I can use the time to do searches on the subject s/he is covering and research more in-depth.

In this way I use the class time as an extended guided study session, and learn much more. If I did not have a wireless internet connection I fear my head might explode with boredom in this situation.