A Tufts University professor says no.

After having a laissez-faire policy on laptops in my classrooms for my first decade of teaching, I have pretty much banned them. I knew that taking notes by hand is much, much better for learning than taking notes on a computer (the latter allows the student to transcribe without thinking; the former forces the student to cognitively process what is worthy of note-taking and what is not), but I figured that was the student’s choice. The tipping point for me was research showing that open screens in a classroom distract students close to the screen. So I went all paternalistic and decided to eliminate them from my classroom. The effect was immediate — my students were more engaged with the material.

Same for PowerPoints and Lecture-By-Skype and so on and so on.

MOOCs (as UD has discovered) can be great as non-credit-bearing world-outreach sorts of things, but they can be just as cheesy as many online and PowerPoint-heavy and Go-Ahead-And-Use-Your-Laptops courses when you try to pretend they’re equivalent – in intrinsic value, and in credit-worthiness – to non-laptopped, in-class courses.

Trackback URL for this post:

One Response to “Banned in Boston”

  1. charlie Says:

    UD, as David Noble pointed out years ago, it’s all about cutting costs rather than teaching….



    n 2012, for example, MindShift’s Aran Levasseur wrote that “all computing devices—from laptops to tablets to smartphones—are dismantling knowledge silos and are therefore transforming the role of a teacher into something that is more of a facilitator and coach.” Joshua Starr, a nationally prominent superintendent, recently told NPR, “I ask teachers all the time, if you can Google it, why teach it?” And it’s already become a cliche that the teacher should transfer from being a “sage on the stage” to being “a guide on the side.”

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE