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.