June 22nd, 2020
“[Connie] Bernard told The Advocate that what people saw on her laptop was an accident, a pop up ad that she failed to close. She said she was struggling with technology Thursday, going back and forth between a district-owned and a personal computer.”

When you’re helping run what is arguably the worst public school system in America, openly shopping online for dresses during important school board meetings really says I want to make this situation better. And what a special role model for the children of your district you are as you lie about what you were doing.

Arthur Pania of Baton Rouge, who attended Thursday’s School Board meeting, took to Facebook Saturday afternoon to rebut Bernard.

“I personally watched her for about eight minutes, attempting to decide between a beige and red dress,” Pania wrote. “The only thing I had issue determining from my sight was if it was a short dress or nightwear.”

Of course anyone who teaches at a university that allows students to bring laptops to class knows what it feels like to be, say, sweating your way through a careful presentation of Kantian philosophy and notice some guy in the front row watching pornography while you talk. (What alerted you to something amiss? His erection.) So while the bruised and aggrieved and long-suffering people of Baton Rouge discuss racism, this school board member tries to decide between beige and red. As with the panting guy in the front row, it’s a spectacular way to say hey lol fuck you.

The simple expedient of telling school board members not to use laptops during meetings never occurs to the ninnies who run schools into the ground.

May 17th, 2020
“[R]emote education is nowhere near the caliber of the on-campus experience.”

Duh. Any idiot knows that online instruction, while sometimes okay, is never great, never anything like face to face real time real world classroom education.

Not that UD didn’t constantly hear, at campus meetings (long before the virus) devoted to onlining more and more of her university’s offerings, that online was “exactly the same quality as in-class.” People actually said this. They said it confidently. They said it as if prefacing it Everyone knows that… As if anyone who might be thinking about demurring might want to keep their trap shut.

The drama, spontaneity, and challenge of other smart human beings sitting around you discussing an issue? The intensity-packed emotional/intellectual presence of a flesh and blood professor in love with her subject and excited by her students’ responsiveness to it? That cherished moment after class when some of her students come up to her and want to keep talking into the hallways and into her office? Meh. Meh! Feh. Feh! Who needs it!


The university told a whopper. It made a Whopper.

Eh alors. Universities tried to keep the Online Whopper fresh and sizzling, tried to make it a tenderly expertly fashioned Beef Wellington rather than a … Whopper… But all it took was some scrutiny by a few people uncynical and serious about their education to reveal the sesame bun under the puff pastry.


And lo! Behold the lawsuits all over this land as people realize that $30,000 a semester for techno-fumbling, anonymity, and emotional disengagement is on the high side.

January 22nd, 2020
‘[L]aptops in most lecture courses harm both their users and many others. Our professors, as facilitators of our learning, have a duty to make the hard choice and, in that specific context, ban them. It’s time to close the lids and open our eyes.’

The remarkable spectacle of university students reminding their professors of their basic pedagogical responsibilities continues. This Emory student has done more than most professors – he has reviewed the now-extensive literature on the vile effects of laptop use in most college classrooms, and he has arrived at the obvious conclusion. As have many responsible professors. But so many others who continue to allow laptops – are they lazy? cynical? – have not.

July 10th, 2019
WOTTA Shocker.

Survey: Nearly Half of Students Distracted by Technology

January 22nd, 2019
Tragic Wastage of Paper in Canada

Some students at one of the University of Toronto campuses don’t want a laptop ban, and they are uncomfortably aware it’s the wave of the future. In arguing for the laptop’s necessity, they cite the ‘wastage of paper’ that will ensue if students write in their notebooks.

July 28th, 2018

A study published in the journal Educational Psychology found that students who had cellphones or laptops present while a lesson was being taught scored five percent, or half a letter grade, lower on exams than students who didn’t use electronics… The study also found that students in the device-permitting classroom who were not using devices also scored lower. The researchers attributed this to distraction from the devices around them.

May 16th, 2018
“[A] lot of professors … don’t have any clear laptop policies.”

Once again, students must instruct professors on the gross negligence of failing to restrict/outlaw laptop use in their classes. This Northwestern University student nicely rehearses the by-now almost universally accepted arguments against laptop use in the classroom; he goes on to note that plenty of professors still don’t give a shit.

March 12th, 2018
‘There are more than 200 students in the class ENGG 401 – Law and Professionalism. More than half of the enrolled students don’t attend the lectures; they just show up for the exams. The professors post their lecture notes online for the students.’

Wotta shocker when these high-quality courses generate systemic cheating! Massive numbers of foreign students, few of whom exist in the physical universe, a professor who doesn’t bother showing up for exams…

And that’s ain’t all, folks. Turns out cheating is everywhere in the University of Regina’s engineering program – faculty as well as students – and reading about all the efforts to break into professors’ offices to get the exams, to hack the system and change grades, to bribe TAs to get, er, special assistance… And then there are the professors stealing their students’ work … It’s quite something.

But the school is on it! For instance, it has sent out a message to all students asking them not to cheat. Plus any day now it intends to deploy shock troops to show up on exam days and take a serious look around.


UD thanks Jack.

February 1st, 2018
Most Online Courses Suck.

Not all of them do, but most of them do. (Read this blog’s Click-Thru U and/or Technolust categories.) They’re positively criminal for slower learners — and in public high schools, slower learners are exactly the people the system shunts into online “credit recovery” courses, unsupervised, cheating-friendly, online make-up classes. If you flunk out of a person-to-person class, you can still get the credits you need to graduate by pretending you took the same material online. It’s a solution sweeping the nation, a scandal in every state, but UD‘s own Washington DC has had truly remarkable results with the technology: Every year, all but two public schools illegitimately graduate gobs of students.


The romance with tacky online education continues to power forward in this country, because there’s plenty of money in it for the vendor, and because it’s absolute bliss for give-a-shit cynics. Despite all the scandals, expect it to grow.

Take heed of one thing DC schools are doing right away in response to the scandal: They’re keeping the program but calling it something other than “credit recovery.”


But they’ll never beat the pros.

November 22nd, 2017


September 13th, 2017

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…

April 3rd, 2017
‘Using Laptops in Class Harms Academic Performance, Study Warns’

What a shocker!

This is around the twentieth study to yield results like these.


The real question now is: Why will most professors – assuming they bother to find out these results – not get rid of laptops?

And the answer is easy: Most of them are afraid to. No telling how students will respond.

And the rest of the professors? Laptops make their teaching lives ever so much easier. Life is beautiful when no one’s listening. Many such teachers compound the loveliness by using PowerPoint throughout the class, thus creating what UD calls The Morgue Classroom. They just need to stand there reading words out loud while students watch football games. A nice quiet workable twice weekly experience.

February 4th, 2017
UD takes no position on his suitability for the court. But THIS she likes.

What also stood out was [Neil Gorsuch’s] ban of laptops in the classroom. He forbade students in his [University of Colorado] legal ethics class from using computers — an unusual move within law schools, where laptops are ubiquitous.

The computer exile was intended to eliminate distractions, boost engagement, and prompt students to listen carefully to each other, according to Jordan Henry, a second-year Colorado law student who took Gorsuch’s course last semester. And it was so effective that Henry voluntarily stopped using her laptop in several other classes.

“When you close the computers and get rid of distractions in class, you respond to each other and bring up counterpoints,” she said. “It makes for a true discussion and a much more engaged class — and frankly a more interesting class.”

January 23rd, 2017
“Discussion is absolutely the key,” [University of Georgia Journalism Professor John] Soloski said. “Without the computers, there’s not this physical barrier between the professor and the students …”

Allowing laptops, as UD often says, is academic malpractice.

Professors who continue to allow laptop use fall into the following categories.

1. I could give a shit. It’s easier for me to do virtually nothing up there if students are sedated with their fun screens. To make matters perfect, I use old text-heavy PowerPoints and drone and dribble over them. Eventually my teaching will resemble my deep calm when sleeping off benders, and my classroom will be a morgue.

2. I hate and fear humanity, especially students. I look forward to the day when all of them will be hidden from me behind their screens.

That’s about it.

July 27th, 2016
“In the end, though, I decided that the students who were not multi-tasking had a right not to be distracted by others who were. And, perhaps it’s okay for me to be paternalistic — I’m a teacher, after all.”

If you follow University Diaries, you know that her response to the recent spate of banning confessionals is why did it take you so long. But anyway.

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