Every time I attend class, I notice everyone’s different ways of multi-tasking. Some doodle, maybe to expend energy, some browse the internet looking for more information on (or fact checking) whatever we’re talking about, some work on other things while they listen, some shop–maybe akin to doodling, I check my e-mail and my text messages (gotta make sure work is moving along and there isn’t a baby crisis), some very-focused and at-peace individuals sit listening without engaging any other media/entertainment/focus outlet– I’m always in awe of this group, at least during our class it seems like they have achieved some kind of enlightenment.
I would not have thought to write about this subject until I ran across “Don’t Insult Your Class by Banning Laptops” in the opinion section of the Chronicle of Higher Education. In response to the idea that laptops and other forms of tech tend to distract from a lecture, Mathew Numer explains, ” I’ve studied the effects of technology on university students, and I have found that it not only improves learning, it increases my students’ critical thinking abilities.” I guess I can see how that might be true! Aren’t we more likely to think critically when we have an outlet for following down paths of thought or checking our theories and assumption in real time? And, that outlet is really needed when there isn’t time for everyone to engage in conversation. Numer suggests that students should be insulted by a ban on laptops in class– after all, we’re not children. And, he further suggests ways that laptops can help enhance the classroom, much of which we have experienced in our GRAD 5104 class. Thanks Abram. Thank Dean DePauw.
All in all, I tend to agree with Numer. Students have to learn how to manage themselves in class and if we ban laptops or other items (a long time ago, one of my professors tried to ban newspapers in class), how will they learn? By the time they are in grad school or a staff meeting, they will need to know how to stay engaged and will need a good understanding of how others perceive their use of technology during class or in a meeting.