… by a Wesleyan University undergrad. One of the keenest, calmest, most honest, considerations UD has seen of the phenomenon.

It is our obligation as students to delve more deeply into the impacts of technology on our education and our values, and this can only happen through reflection about the influence of technology on what and how we learn… The questions raised by technology are not just questions about distraction or temptation. They are deeper human questions about how we learn, and they must be addressed if we ever hope to reach an understanding of how technology should be used in the service of learning. Whatever decision professors or students might make about the use of technology in the classroom, these questions can serve as springboards for discussion about the importance, for example, of an engaging classroom environment, and about why complete focus and open interaction with one’s classmates are essential to this environment.

Concisely, incisively, she gets to the core of why professors who allow – much less encourage – laptops in their classroom are guilty of pedagogical malpractice.

But – as UD has said for years on this blog – laptop lecturers, who totally grasp the advantages of talking to an audience that ignores you (especially if, like many of these lecturers, you spice up the classroom sizzle with extensive PowerPoint use), will never shut down the enterprise. Nor will their university’s administrators, who after all have been giving these drones awards for innovative use of technology in the classroom. As UD has always said, and as this and other student editorials suggest, change will come only from a popular revolt.

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6 Responses to “Spectacularly mature and well-written piece on laptops in the classroom…”

  1. charlie Says:

    UD, you may/may not have taught k-12, but as a former hs teacher, the rush to replace teachers with any and every electronic gadget is accelerating. I’m sure that the OP has used computers all through their high school years, and has come to the conclusion that they probably don’t work. They weren’t meant to, the technology was created to degrade teacher’s labor, make them nothing but appendages to a device which is ultimately meant to replace the human.

    It’s been fifty years since the publication of Harry Braverman’s work, “Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Labor in the Twentieth Century.” Braverman landmark book described how mechanization of the work place had destroyed, or at least, mitigated, the craftsman’s skill in order to increase profits. What he described has been ongoing in academia for over a generation, and the Wesleyan undergrad seems to have an inherent understanding of Braverman’s work, and the contempt of education found with a wired classroom. It will take a revolt to win back the academy….

  2. John Says:

    Taking hand written notes is known to aid in retention. Are there any studies as to the relative benefit vs keyboard note taking?

  3. david foster Says:

    When the telegraph was first invented, a journalist marveled “”This extraordinary discovery leaves…no elsewhere…it is all HERE.”

    If wired communication reduces the sense of *elsewhere*, then it seems that wireless communication can reduce the sense of the *here and now.”

    Some thoughts on the impact of communications technology of society and human behavior, at my post Duz Web Mak Us Dumr:


  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    John: Studies show that students who take notes via keyboard essentially are taking dictation – they tend to mechanically type every word that is said.

  5. charlie Says:

    Braverman’s work was published in 1974, not 1964, forty year anniversary, not fifty.

  6. Daniel S. Goldberg Says:

    Go Wes!

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