Laptops in the Classroom – To Ban or Encourage?
The Washington Post published a widely cited article last week titled “Wide Web of Diversions Gets Laptops Evicted from Lecture Halls” concerning the banning of student laptops during classes at several universities. Some instructors find that students are too easily distracted by their laptops and feel that banning the devices helps students stay attentive during class. Others see it as the instructor’s job to hold students’ attention during class. As Harvard physics professor Eric Mazur said in a recent AP story on classroom response systems, “The teacher just has to be more interesting than YouTube.”
An instructor’s decision about laptops in the classroom is clearly a hot topic. More that 250 comments have been made on the story on the Post Web site, and the story has generated interesting discussions on an Inside Higher Ed post by Joshua Kim and a blog post by Mills Kelly, George Mason University historian.
The CFT has explored this question in our podcast series twice, in Episode 4 in an interview with Duco Jansen (Biomedical Engineering) and in Episode 7 featuring remarks by Patricia Armstrong (French), Matt Hall (ITS), and Jay Clayton (English). Also, CFT educational technologist Rhett McDaniel has written a teaching guide on the topic of wireless Internet use in the classroom.
What pros and cons do you see in banning or encouraging student laptop use during class?
Image: “MacBook X-ray” by Flickr user jasondevilla / Creative Commons licensed