UD‘s campus, George Washington University, also begins to acknowledge the obvious.

Facebook, video-chatting and instant messaging may soon be a thing of the past – at least in some GW classrooms.

A growing number of professors are banning or restricting the use of laptop computers in their classrooms in an attempt to get students to pay attention and engage in classroom discussions.

… Sophomore Joe Goldman … said he does not mind that his professor bans laptops in his class.

“I find the use of a computer to be terribly distracting. I already have a BlackBerry, if I had a computer in class I’d literally be staring at a screen all day,” he said.

… “Students pay a lot of money to attend this institution, but I’m sure it’s no one’s intent that people should be throwing that money away,” [one professor said]. “If lectures are being compromised, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to use them.”

… Georgetown Law professor David Cole said 80 percent of his students who were anonymously surveyed reported that they are more engaged in class discussion when they are laptop-free, 70 percent said that they liked the no-laptop policy, and 95 percent admitted that they use their laptops in class for “purposes other than taking notes.”

GW professor Tapan Nayak also said he has banned laptops in his statistics courses.

“In the past, some of my students were using laptops to do other things, checking e-mail, surfing the Internet,” Nayak said. “For my class it is not necessary or that helpful to use a laptop.”

“In general I’d say that laptops are kind of like a double-edged sword in the classroom. We are only using what is given to us, but we all know what people are going to do in the classroom and that’s not pay attention,” said Zach Hanover, a student in SMPA professor Carole Bell’s class. Bell has also banned laptops in her class….

UD thinks that eventually the only professors to encourage laptop use will be those who already stuff their classrooms with PowerPoint and clickers and anything else that will allow them the same screening from their students that the screened students have from them.

If UD‘s right, students who want to stay on Facebook during class should identify professors suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. Or borderline Asperger’s.

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3 Responses to “Snapshot from Home”

  1. Dance Says:

    Huh. I just encouraged laptop use.

    But it’s a small class, and I said bring the laptop if you don’t want to print out readings, because you need to be able to refer to them. I also showed them how they can write notes directly on a PDF.

    But it would be better for universities to shut down the wireless in classrooms than for individual professors to be banning laptops. No internet access would mitigate a lot of the issues.

  2. The_Myth Says:

    Dance, have you ever had a student play a computer game, clicking away like a madman, while sitting 5 feet in front of you?

    Once that started happening on a regular basis, I realized it was becoming the instructor’s job to protect students from their own rude ignorance.

    If a student wants an education, he or she will always be engaged, no matter the tech allowed or used. But, many instructors are facing a room full of incurious layabouts who use their computers and their crackberries to remain unpersuaded by the professing going on in the front of the room.

    As UD repeatedly remarks, oftentimes the computer is a stout wall between the instructor and the student.

  3. Dance Says:

    I haven’t. My implicit point was that this very much depends on the class.

    But I retract the endorsement of shutting off wireless as a better idea.

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