← Previous Post: | Next Post:


A student there describes the view from the last row of a classroom.

… Through the course of a 75 minute class, I observed what was on [their laptop] screens: One person on Blackboard.com, four people taking notes in Word documents, three people viewing the professor’s PowerPoint presentation; four people on Wikipedia.com, seven people on Facebook.com and eight people checking their e-mail. There was also one guy who played games for literally the entire class period. In fact, it could be that most students were actually on Facebook, and I just didn’t see because I was so distracted by the laser shooting around this guy’s screen.

As I continued to be distracted by the browsing all around me, I noticed students visiting other notable Web sites and programs. These included: Gmail, Google.com, the Bloomingdale’s Web site (such cute boots this season!), iChat, PerezHilton.com, Google Calendar, CNN.com, SI.com (oh, Sports Illustrated…), YouTube.com (including a trailer of the upcoming “Toy Story 3;” did you see it? It looks so good!), online versions of sudoku and solitaire, Verizon.com and various blogs.

One kid in the second row was even checking his bank account…

Trackback URL for this post:

8 Responses to “Your kid’s brain on Tufts.”

  1. Bill Gleason Says:


    So why doesn’t the prof politely request that people not use laptops for things other than class, i.e. taking notes on the lecture, or perhaps looking up something relevant.

    And it is possible to go out into the studio audience once in a while, while lecturing, for a little inspection. And folks doing what has been described could be, politely, asked to stop it or leave.

    The fact that faculty don’t do something about this contributes to the problem.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    There are reasons why some professors prefer rooms full of nonentities, Bill.

    If you, for instance, don’t want to be interrupted while reading PowerPoints aloud for fifty minutes, what the Tufts student is describing is the best possible arrangement.

  3. Library of Congress blogging… « More or Less Bunk Says:

    […] * My nightmare. […]

  4. Cassandra Says:

    Faculty, Bill?

    As an adjunct, I was barely considered faculty.

    When I told students to shut off the screens, they wrote lies in the course evals that made me look like a bad teacher. The pushback from net-addicted hedonists can be overwhelming, especially when they are tacitly supported by administration.

    At most schools, the vast majority of courses are not taught by regularly contracted employees. When you can be not re-hired for ANY reason, it’s easy to see how some instructors have little choice but to appease the hoi poloi and their obsessive-compulsion to Facebook, text message, and watch porn in class.

    I do not advocate this policy of non-aggression. But then again, I am unemployed after not being re-hired, so it’s moot for me.

  5. Bill Gleason Says:

    I understand Cassandra, believe me. I was once in the same situation.

    All the more reason for those who are in a position to do something about this – those with tenure – to squeak up.


  6. Matt L Says:

    Sorry Bill, I have to disagree. This in not solely a faculty problem. My wife tells me that she sees people doing the exact same things at work during meetings. This is not simply a matter of a permissive faculty member not doing their job.

    I have a policy that explicitly tells students to leave the laptop in their bag and not to text in class. I still have two or three students who text in class. When I catch one I chew them out, tell them to behave like an adult and that stops it, for a week. I have thrown people out of class. I have walked out of classes when the texting and laptop usage got out of hand.

    Is it too much to ask students to behave like the adult learners they said they wanted to be when they enrolled in college? It really does come down to the students and whether they showed up to learn or be entertained/babysat. Right now, a lot of college is about babysitting. If you want that to change, then that is something society is going to have to have a discussion about and pay for.

  7. Bill Gleason Says:

    I never said that it was solely a faculty problem…

  8. Dom Says:

    Why do students attend lectures they spend wasting time on laptops?

    At technical conferences I’ve seen the occasional attendee browsing, for example, the World of Warcraft discussion forums. This happens at sparsely attended, boring sessions that immediately precede interesting, room-filling sessions: some people attend just to reserve a seat.

    Is this possible at a university? Does someone take attendance? Or is there some other reason for attendance without attention?

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE