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Easily Distracted, you’re bound to be a laptops-in-the-classroom enthusiast.

Monsieur Burke makes his case here.

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7 Responses to “When Your Blog’s Very Name is …”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    I have a couple of problems with Mr. Burke’s argument.

    For one thing, a student who sits there laptopping and not actually paying attention have taken up a space in that class that another, more attentive student might have wanted, but not been able to get because of that laptopper. It’s all well and good to say that a student can laptop throughout a lecture and waste his or her money, or his or her parents’ money, but it seems to me that a laptopping student is indirectly wasting other students’ money as well.

    For another thing, having people sit there laptopping in a lecture, not really paying attention, destroys the kind of intimate, engaged classroom environment that I’d want to have in my lectures if I were a professor.

  2. Carolyn Says:

    There’s a typo in my comment above. I meant to say "a student who sits there laptopping and not actually paying attention MIGHT have taken up a space…"

  3. Timothy Burke Says:

    Sure, but both of those things would be equally true of the student doodling or goofing off or writing letters or even the student taking the occasionally diffident note while they look on with bored diffidence. Allof which are things that students did (sometimes in significant numbers) before laptops, and some still do today without the aid of a laptop.

  4. Cassandra Says:

    Consider the school of the author.

    He’d have a different opinion if 50+% of the students in his over-crowded class were in desperate need of remediation that they insulated themselves against with Facebook, etc.

  5. Carolyn Says:

    Doodling isn’t nearly as distracting to the other students in a class as using a laptop is, though. And it’s possible to give a fair amount of attention to a lecture while doodling. Not so much while browsing the web.

  6. Cassandra Says:

    Carolyn sparked a dim memory:

    Weren’t there studies of students done at some point that supported the claim that doodling activated a part of your brain that actually helped with attention, such that some doodlers might actually be able to comprehend the lecture better than someone paying rapt attention (but whose mind didn’t absorb the material)?

    Of course, that theory may have never gathered sufficient evidence…

    I wonder why no one ever brings it up though.

  7. Timothy Burke Says:

    The author considers his school in the entry in question!

    Carolyn: Why are you so certain on those two assertions? (Possible to pay attention while doodling, not while looking at the web.) Just to be fair, there is a body of work in cognitive science that suggests that "continuous partial attention" is something of a myth, but as I understand it, a lot of it turns on what exact tasks a partial-attention person is trying to juggle, and how serious they are about those tasks.

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