Apparently Professors Hate Laptops in Lecture

Posted by at 11:37PM

I came across this interesting article in the NYTimes about technology in the classroom: New Class(room) War: Teacher vs. Technology – New York Times
Apparently lots of teachers are annoyed with the fact that students use their laptops and smart/cell phones in class instead of listening to the Prof. According to one:
“The more you give, the more they take. These devices become an indisposable sort of thing for the students. And nothing should be indisposable. Multitasking is good, but I want them to do more tasking in my class.”
The author replies:
“To which one can only say: Amen. And add: Too bad the good guy is going to lose.”
Seriously? How is text messaging worse than doodling on the corner of the page, daydreaming or passing notes? They are all ways of ignoring the teacher and have been around for as long as boring teachers have.
If profs want to get more student engagement, they need to make their classes more engaging. Lots of education research shows that lecturing is just not very effective at fostering serious intellectual thinking. I wrote my PWR2 paper on cooperative learning which does a much better job.
All I have to say is that at least these students are coming to class. I think many more people would just skip lecture if they weren’t allowed to text, surf facebook or according to the article, watch porn, during lecture.
What do you guys think? Technology in classrooms yay or nay?


11 Responses to “Apparently Professors Hate Laptops in Lecture”

  1. Jeff Jackson says:

    I have some perspective from being an undergrad in the late 80’s/early 90’s and a current laptop totin’ law student.
    And good gravy do I love my laptop! I was always a prolific note taker, but it’s far more efficient when they’re actually legible and organized.
    The added feature is the ability to cut and paste stuff statutory and case law off of the net and into your notes.
    Class laptops with internet access are like all technologies – they can be used to enhance your ability to learn, or they can distract you.
    A first step in getting students to pay attention is for professors to write their own exams based on what’s discussed in class rather than poaching something that could be learned through outside cramming.
    Jeff (BS ’92)

  2. Kathy says:

    Wow. Is that what college classrooms are like now? I feel so old. (BS, ’81) I bet it’d be great to have a laptop, but like Jeff said, you’d have to watch that it’s not a distraction.

  3. Ian says:

    I definitely feel that technology should be allowed in the classroom. For those that aren’t going to listen to the prof, well they will find something to waste time on anyway. Also, there are actually students that take notes via laptop since we are supposed to be moving towards a more paperless society.
    As long as it doesn’t become too intrusive on others in the class, I see no problem with it.

  4. masaru says:

    note-taking is definitely easier for fuzzy classes i think, if there’s a lot of content (which is probably the case for most classes). i definitely see the vast majority of people iming or e-mailing or surfing the web in class though, which is a waste of time i think. might as well skip class and sleep or something. the most incomprehensible thing i’ve seen, though, is surfing the web during a review session. seriously, why go to a completely optional thing if you’re not listening?

  5. Judy says:

    As a student, I love using my laptop in class (let’s face it, it really helps the time pass in some cases…). However, I once took an ENGLISH class in which they were outlawed, and got A LOT more out of it as a result.
    In my experience, professors and lecturers shouldn’t be surprised if their students bring laptops to class when lecturers are increasingly POSTING their lectures ONLINE – it’s practically inevitable in that case. Thus, if lecturers don’t want students to bring their laptops to class, in my opinion, they should NOT post their lectures online before or during class time.
    However, in small group discussions and sections, laptops take on an entirely different form. They stick out more, and, let’s be real, no one types notes as rapidly as she types IMs about what happened last night (OMG lol hahahaha). Woah. Let’s be real.
    Anyway, if I ever lecture (which I will, eventually), I’ll definitely ban computers in my lecture hall, flat out. (And I won’t care what year it is.)

  6. Colin Purrington says:

    The entertainment value of iPods, Instant Messaging, and laptops in lectures is something probably impossible to control…but I wonder whether students sitting next to abusers are more annoyed than professors (like myself). Watching somebody surf YouTube during a lecture must surely be distracting. I wonder whether asking students to sit in the back of the room would be a compromise that students could live with, short of an outright ban.

  7. MICTON says:

    Some student’s don’t take notes on laptops, instead use it to surf and do other things. It’s more engaging to actually take notes by hand, with a pen/pencil, oh and paper. Age of technology, sometimes old school is best

  8. Holiday says:

    If laptops are connected to the internet, which is easy nowadays with an internet key, the lecturer is just talking talking talking alone and the students are just on facebook, twitter or playing online.

    Technology is very much welcomed in the classroom, but some type of control is a must.

  9. Jarod C says:

    I have the same problem! One of my professors won’t even allow me to bring in my iPad to class.. it’s a friggin iPad, its not like its some big custom gaming computer or anything! Maybe I should bring in my huge desktop from and see what he thinks. It pretty close to being 50lbs!!

    funny stuff…

  10. Not a cynic says:

    Let’s not even get at the fact that students often don’t bring their laptops for the right reason. I mean for many, these computers are just tools of distraction. They would rather play with facebook than to deal with the boredom of a lecture (“what? I would I know that’s on the exam! Those bastard profs!”)

    Let’s talk about note taking: the point of taking notes is to put what’s on the slides in YOUR OWN WORDS . You are not meant to copy everything word for word, dot per dot.

    These laptop warriors of today seriously do not understand how to take good notes as it is just easier and faster to copy everything that’s on the big screen.

    I envy all you older folks who got to experience the days when everyone came with only paper and pen. When I walk into a lecture these days, with my $0.25 ultra fine blue ball point, I stick out like a sore thumb, absorbing all the ostracizing stares from kids who just don’t know any better.

    As soon as “note taking” begins, all I hear are thousands of monkeys, a literal frenzy, typing away at type writers without so much as a single brain cell evident. Consumer culture, mass “back-to-school-and-your-kid-needs-a-laptop” marketing – our modern ball-and-chain.

    Clicks and clacks, like swarms of bees, like sirens, like a blizzard. Good penmanship will soon be a thing of the stone ages.

  11. Dating Contact says:

    That’s a nice article! Maybe it’s relevant for my own site.. Am I allowed to link to this article from my own blog?


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