Times Higher Education has a longish article stating the obvious: You can’t learn with your laptop open.

It also states the less than obvious: American university professors are beginning to realize this.


Course, if y’all’d been reading University Diaries starting back in – I dunno – 2007 – you’d have had post after post screaming about how stupid it is to let your students use laptops in class.

Universities have dropped millions for technology (“The backlash against technology comes after universities have spent fortunes wiring their campuses for access to the internet.”); they’ve conducted all kinds of research to prove the self-evident (“[T]he students’ memories were disorganised; they fixated on irrelevant data, could not follow specific directions that required paying attention and wrote poorly.”); they’ve laptopped everything only to realize how stupid it is to laptop everything (“We have put the whole course online. We’ve videotaped it so that [students] can stay home and watch it in their rooms. We’ve put everything online so they have a reason to open the laptop. We’ve done this for them thinking it was progress. It confuses [students] when we now say: ‘Don’t open your laptop.'”).

So now where are we? Duh. Backlash territory. More and more universities are banning laptops from classrooms.

Sherry Turkle says it’s “the time of repentance,” but that’s horseshit. Universities weren’t thinking in the first place, so they’re not returning to thought now. They’re just embarrassed and confused by the mess they’ve created, and they’re trying to clean it up.

Universities created the mess because they’re lazy, and because they’re afraid of students. “[W]e make [laptop use in class] easy and allow people to get away with it. But if universities allow or encourage it, or don’t actively discourage it, then you’re creating a situation that does not just have short-term but also long-term effects.”

We’ll see how many professors and universities have the guts to cross laptop-loving students.

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3 Responses to “‘Now, along with a growing number of other US academics – and backed by new neurological research suggesting that technological distractions are taking a significant toll on learning – he has taken the dramatic step of banning laptops from his classes.’”

  1. Pete Copeland Says:

    My experience is you only have to cross one laptop-loving student per semester.

    The only person who gets to use a laptop in my class is me.

    For PowerPoint, of course.

  2. dmf Says:

    well if the efforts by faculty to curb grade-inflation are any indicator…

  3. steve hansen Says:

    a long, long time ago i carried notebooks and pens to my profs’ lectures in an era that might as well be paleozoic. this modern-day experiment in having our young tap away on laptops and text day and night is not working out. but society never moves backward, even in a positive way. it always wants to do the wrong thing.

    similarly, the sheeple have become more used to wearing seat belts and avoiding alcohol before driving. but they’ve taken up texting and phone-yakking behind the wheel.

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