UD has amused herself over the years, compiling various stupid maneuvers professors perform to avoid banning laptops in their classrooms.

There was York University’s Henry Kim:

Kim is fully aware that his students aren’t listening to him because they’re watching shit on their laptops. Instead of banning laptops, however, Kim has taken a page out of Erich Honecker’s East Germany and turned his students into a spy network. If a student sees another student using her laptop for non-class purposes (Kim has already had his students swear some ridiculous pledge, etc.), she is to report that to Kim.

“It’s not meant to be punitive — it’s almost like a thought experiment, and the whole point is to create a new social norm in my class.”

Comrade Honecker speaks! Creating new social norms by encouraging students to turn in other students – that’s the solution to the laptop problem!

And now there’s some person at the University of Pennsylvania:

I had a professor last year who had the TAs sit in the back of the lecture hall, where they could see the screens of the students using their laptops. If they saw someone goofing off or not simply taking notes, they would ring a bell, and everyone would have to close their laptops for several minutes before they could reopen them to continue taking notes. This didn’t help anyone focus; rather, it stirred up anger in the students, that they were being treated like animals who needed to respond to the ring of a bell.

Same basic Honecker approach – designate a person or persons who tell on the naughty laptop user – but I love the addition of a bell… Like Captain von Trapp’s dog whistle… Another thought experiment generating new social norms…

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3 Responses to “LOL.”

  1. David Foster Says:

    What on earth are they so afraid of? That, if they totally ban laptops, the students will riot? Break into tears? File lawsuits?

    BTW, the real Captain von Trapp apparently did not really manage his children in the militaristic manner portrayed in the film, according to what one of them had to say in the introduction to his memoirs.

    The memoirs, mainly about his service in the Austrian Navy during WWI, were very interesting. My review here:

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/43171.html

  2. dmf Says:

    DF,they are afraid that student-customers won’t sign up for their classes and the beancounters will come calling…

  3. Anon Says:

    I banned them last year and heard not a peep. So indeed, what are they afraid of?

    Also: plenty of evidence that hand-writing notes helps both learning and retention.

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