Laptops in the Classroom – Help or Hindrance?

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srt

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Budgetperson

I definetly agree that laptops can be a hindrance to learning when students get distracted. I'm on a school laptop right now (in class), but I'm done with all my work, so I'm good. Even so, a lot of people I see will be goofing off on the computer doing random websites.

I do agree thoguh that laptops should not be totally taken out of the school enviornment. They really help me get my work done fast.

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nekollx

take me for example, when i was in college i failed most of my classes, not not for lack of effort, and 3 classes i breazed through, heck i SLEPT though one of them and was still head of the class. Sociology and Psychology i maintained a B/A average in (respectivily) and in my computer programing course i would litterly fall asleep in class, one timethe Professor "called" me to the board to complete a function, not only did i complete it flawlessly, not only that after class i was asking him how to code a function in material we hadent even covered yet (and i had not read ahead in the text book so i didnt even knoew we COULD do it thus the question)

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mdcheer54

I completely agree that students need to take responsibility for their actions and their grades. A lot this plays back on the parent's responisbility as parents which is a whole other topic in and of itself. I'm a recent graduate and I sometimes brought my laptop to class, sometimes to learn and sometimes to goof. I do see this as a problem if you're distracting others, but we can't punish those that are being responsible. You're in college... PERIOD...whether or not you take responsibilty for your actions, this is the place to learn those consequences and become an adult!

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HellTempest

Responsiblity. Something often forgotten. Parents pay for their kids to go to college, and the students have the responsibility to learn to the best of their ability. If they have laptops, and they goof off by visiting websites and using applications that have nothing to do with the subject matter, then that is their choice. If they get bad grades because of their access to laptops during lectures and class times, then they should be the ones with the responsibility to act, not the school administrators or the professors. If they are discovered to be goofing off during class, then yes they should just be booted off to the back of the classroom, because if they really wanted to learn and do good, they would be paying attention, weak willed or strong.

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comptech08

"Parents pay for their kids to go to college"

 

Not for everyone.  I hear this statement way to often.  I know several people that have to pay their way through, and I am one of them.  What i have learned, the students getting a free ride from their parents are usually the ones that party all the time, do bad in class, and ask other students for the answers in lab,o and to stay on topic the ones playing video games during lecture.

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HellTempest

I guess I wasn't clear. I meant the ones whose parents actually pay for them, and not the ones who pay for it.

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sp33dyf33t

I found this article that makes a whole lot more sense. 

http://ffwtech.com/2009/03/why-laptops-are-necessary-in-the-classroom/

Used correctly, laptops are the most efficient and fastest way of learning there is. With technology getting cheaper and cheaper why not take advantage of the tools that computers provide for us.

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comptech08

If i could connect to my colleges wireless then i would be on the internet :).  They have everything screwed up at my school.  They were suppose to redo it last summer, and were asking students to help and I was interested.  Well they wanted us to do it for free.  Why would i spend my whole summer installing a network for free?  Well who ever they got to do it made it worse.  You can be right next to the AP and cant't connect, they have two APs per hall.  Maybe they did that so you wouldn't be on the internet during lectures.  I am just thankful most of my teachers are not that boring.

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I Jedi

Why wouldn't you do it at all is a better question? If you're going into the IT field as a computer networking engineer, then you need the skills and expertise to do your job right and timely. I would of done it because it would of given me more experience in networking management... 

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comptech08

I needed money to pay for college.  They wanted people to do it full time for free.  It just wasn't an option and i had other options for experiance.

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maniacm0nk3y

At my College they gave out laptops for a small fee at the beginning of the year. I have just been reading on the internet and occasionally look up. It would be a lot different if I actually had something important to learn. With half the stuff they teach me, and books with step by step instructions, it's hard to pay attention 100% without looking over articles.

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I Jedi

I think that laptops are an invalueable thing to have, especially as a learning tool. They can offer quick access to information on the web, better organization, and finally, as stated above, can help also improve marks... However, I can understand how laptops might be abused and mistreated by individuals. It's a win or lose situation, really. I see their potential value, but also the potential drawback. Perhaps schools in general can adopt a 3-strike you're out system? Where if the student is earning low grades because he/she is fucking around on the laptop, then she could be required not to use one anymore and go back to ol' style paper and pencil. 

 Edit:

@ jwalch.hawk

Colleges and universities shouldn't implement a ban or anything at all, as some professors would want. At least, that's what I think. If you're 18, going to college, and you're getting distracted by a laptop, rather than focusing on the professors speech, then you deserve the grade you get. People have to take responsibility for themselves and not be told what to do. I'm 19-years old right now and when I hit college I can gurantee you that there will probably be times when I'm surfing my laptop online, rather than doing what I should be doing, but that's my own choice and mistake. Hopefully I'll be smarter than that by the time it rolles around. 

Oh, and I agree entirely with the idea about grabbing the students attention. If a website is more interesting to read than listening to your lecture, then find more innovative ways to make your lectures more fun, easy going, and grabbing the audiences attention.

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jwalch.hawk

As a full-time student, I can support your suggestion that the ratio is quite ridiculous...  And this is a "prestigious" university.  Before anyone gets up and arms about me saying that, I'm only pointing that out to illustrate this happens everywhere and not to be self-promoting.

I've been guilty of perusing the web (mostly e-mail and catching up on RSS, though) during lectures when my focus wanders.  I'd say Quake is pretty bad just because that pretty much grabs all your attention.  At least I'm halfway paying attention when I'm pissing around.  Though I'm sure some folks would claim that they're somewhat paying attention while fragging, so whatever...

Two points to be considered (not sure if the Ars Technica article mentions these):

1) Most professors are of the opinion that college students, even undergrads, are adults responsible for their own decisions.  Sleep in and miss my morning lecture every other time it meets?  Fine, but don't expect to do well on the midterm.  Same applies for the misuse of laptops.  The professors are aware; most are of the opinion that students can make whatever bed they want, they just have to lie in it.  For college students, this is the way it should be.  No need for someone to play mommy here

2) Some professors actually take it as a motivation.  Yes, some people are going to screw off no matter what.  But if 90% of your lecture has students clearly paying more attention to their laptops than you, what does that say about your ability to capture students' attention, motivate learning, and generally give a decent lecture?  I've seen a marked increase in the amount of people using their laptops to ignore lectures when the lectures were terrible.  If all the prof. is going to do is read off the PowerPoint slides (which will typically be posted online) and mumble a whole lot, most people are going to lose focus.  The laptop is a more convenient means, but I've resorted to doing the crossword in the student daily when my laptop isn't handy.  Professors instituting widespread bans on laptops in their lectures would hardly be constructive.  I think taking it as a challenge to be more engaging is a very good response.

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D3lt4

I can attest to this. Sure laptops can be distracting, but have some will power! If you are paying thousands of dollars to go to a university than at least pay attention in class. Also, as jwalch.hawk mentioned, there are certain professors(part-time proff in my case) that makes me wonder why in the world are they teaching?! And during their lecture I would do anything to simply stay awake, which included me browsing my laptop.

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FoamysKing

wow this is such a big surprise NOT

there are always going to be those people but we have to hope they dont ruin things for every one else.

If used properly a laptop can be a wonderful leaning tool and very helpful in a day to day basis  just like cell phones but every one cannot be trusted to do the correct thing so lets just hope colleges dont crack down to high school levels

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Gailim

I love my laptop, most teachers at my university have learned to spot people who are just looking at the screen and not typing.

 

my laptop lets me organize all of my notes, and I'm much faster typing my notes than writing them out. so it lets me spend more time paying attention than writing 

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Bravo_18

Notebooks are useful tools for learning. But not inside the classroom while a lecture or discussion is being held. Its almost like watching TV and reading a book ang taking down notes all in the same time..

 

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Calibretto

They can definitely be distracting. I don't see the point of using them in classrooms except for taking notes digitally and not with pencil and paper. I can say I'm very guilty of using my laptop in the classroom for chatting with friends, playing games, etc. and my grade has proven that.

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