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U. of Chicago Law School Blocks Internet Access

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the solitaire-without-a-laptop dept.

Education 343

Scott Jaschik writes "While some individual professors have banned laptops from classes at various colleges, the University of Chicago law school is going further, cutting off wireless and wired access in its classrooms to confront what officials see as out-of-control Web surfing. The story was first reported in the Above The Law 'legal tabloid' late last month. Students and the university's CIO question the strategy." Things will get interesting when Sprint WiMax service lights up in Chicago later this year.

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About Time! (4, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116536)

Let me tell you, they couldn't have made this move any sooner. Some of the law students were having 'independent' thoughts about how the United States legal system should be corrected and it was just causing mass chaos in the classrooms. One student kept reading things online like People Before Lawyers [perkel.com] and began voicing concerns about the plaintiffs and defendants (you know, the actual humans involved) in certain cases. Let's just say that individual had to stay back a few years after having to repeat the class Soul Removal 101 and begin the process over. It was very ugly I think they were only eligible to be a para-legal after that incident.

The "internet" (or "anarchist-net" as we've dubbed it here) is nothing more than a distraction for students and could never ever possibly be used for learning. I suppose next citizens will want every single state and federal law posted on there so they can try to interpret it themselves! Not on my watch, we here at U of Chicago produce no fewer than 50,000 lawyers a year and we will see you in court if you try to circumvent the United State's legal system's need for them (Sprint, we're watching you!).

Re:About Time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116556)

Obvious troll is obvious.

Re:About Time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116872)

This is /., not /b/.

Re:About Time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117016)

(Score: -1, Sage)

Re:About Time! (0, Flamebait)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116606)

Actually he has a point. Unlike medicine where a doctor has an obligation to protect his patient, a lawyer has none. Their only oath is to serve the law and nothing else.

Re:About Time! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116716)

Um, a lawyer does have a number of duties to his client, especially in a court setting. Perhaps a perusal of the rules of professional responsibility would help your understanding of them?

Re:About Time! (4, Insightful)

Uebergeek (549636) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116804)

Um... no, you're completely wrong. The lawyer has numerous ethical duties to his client. The most notable of these duties is a duty of zealous representation - the lawyer's personal feelings have to be put aside to represent the client's interests. The lawyer also has a duty as an officer of the court to not make false statements to the court (judge/jury) and to not counsel or assist the client in acting illegally. Maybe if you were paying attention in your mandatory ethics class in law school, rather than dinking about on the internet on your laptop, you would have learned some of this...

Re:About Time! (4, Interesting)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116630)

Uhhh... exactly why would lawyers want to change a system created by them, enforced by them, and controlled by them?

Re:About Time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116712)

The same can be said about all those recent Ask Slashdots (Should users have admin access?). Why would programmers want to change a system created by them, enforced by them, and controlled by them?

Re:About Time! (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117074)

To make it lazier, of course.

Because programmers can be fired if they disobey. (2, Interesting)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117318)

If my boss tells me to do something a certain way, despite my explanations, I can do it or be fired. There are always other programmers waiting to take my place and toe the line.

Politicians almost seem to have a union mentality. They look out for their class first, then do their job second. You fire one politician, your only choice for replacement are generally more people with the same attitudes.

Maybe we need MORE politicians, so some can be out of work, and hungry for employment, and will actually obey their bosses (We the people.)

Just a thought...

Cue the knee jerk reactions... (5, Insightful)

vtscott (1089271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116668)

Please, it's not as if they've banned their law students from accessing the internet completely. They're just not providing them with a convenient way to play flash games and read blogs during class. I graduated from college about a year ago, and as someone who normally sits in the back of the class I can tell you that a large percentage of the class would just browse the internet idly while the professor lectured and sometimes even play games like WoW. This got to be very distracting when trying to concentrate, because one would have to ignore movement on laptop screens and frantic clicking. I would hope law students would be a bit more mature and would simply be browsing the news or chatting with friends, but when they're doing that they're definitely not getting the most out of their lectures.


That said, overall I don't have a problem with students wasting their tuition money (or their parents' tuition money) by browsing the internet in class all day. But this isn't some power grab to squelch independent thinking. These students are free to browse the internet in their dorms, or the library, or the dining halls, etc. It might be poorly thought out, but I think people (or at least you) are freaking out over nothing.

Re:Cue the knee jerk reactions... (2, Interesting)

erlenic (95003) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117322)

I'll stop browsing the web and playing Quake in class when professors start giving a shit and actually forming a coherent lecture. Until then, they're the ones wasting my tuition money, not me.

And has anyone else noticed that this kind of thing only happens in certain classes? I never once saw someone screwing off in my business law class, where the professor actually new what the hell he was doing, and did it well. But in my intro to business programming class, no one ever paid attention. We only even went to class because he gave pop-quizzes.

Re:About Time! (4, Insightful)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117186)

I suppose next citizens will want every single state and federal law posted on there so they can try to interpret it themselves!

The parent makes one really good point. I was recently talking with a friend of mine just fresh out of law school. Aside from learning the language and protocol of courtrooms and some law theory a huge portion of a law degree today is learning to use some very expensive law databases. These for profit databases are the _only_ practical means of knowing the law. It seems to me, that of all the things our government could spend money on, making the law and cases knowable to the general public at an accessible price to everyone would be somewhat high on the list.

Banning LAPTOPS?! (5, Funny)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116548)

I can understand banning net access, that is often a temptation during a lecture.

Am I supposed to go back to WRITING my notes? This is 2008 for fuck's sake.

Re:Banning LAPTOPS?! (4, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116656)

Meh, you kids are so spoiled. Stone tablets and chisels were good enough for me, they should be good enough for you too.

Re:Banning LAPTOPS?! (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116728)

You had chisels? The luxury! :o

Re:Banning LAPTOPS?! (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117320)

'Intellectual property is the oil of the twenty first century' -- Mark Getty
From the very first time I read this quote, the statement has made no sense to me. Oil (petroleum) is a source of energy which is used by virtually every civilized individual simply to remain alive. It provides us clean drinking water, is used to ship us our food, and provides a means to prepare the food. The vast majority simply could not survive without it.

Intellectual Property (a contradiction in terms) is none of these things.

Re:Banning LAPTOPS?! (5, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116800)

I was about to blast you for making a corny old joke, but I looked at your name and thought better of it. I understand your people's proud and ancient culture. We are accepting of all walks of life here. Your writing on stone tablets makes the whole of society richer. I want to thank to thank you for holding against the evils of technology and actually making life worthwhile.

By the way, GUIs nowadays really are so easy that a cave man could use them, if you ever got the inclination.

You only get 7 out of 10 points for this (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117194)

While correctly applauding the Cro Magnon for "holding against the evils of technology and actually making life worthwhile",
you forgot to request that the Cro Magnon come and thrash all of the people within your society that actually want to prevent those evils from causing further debasement of your society.
This would give you more violence to decry, while increasing your power.
Proper Political Correctness must ensconce wrong things for apparently right reasons.

Re:Banning LAPTOPS?! (3, Insightful)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116838)

There is a certain advantage to taking notes on paper. The attention I pay and the way I take notes when I'm using paper is markedly different then when I use a laptop. I'm usually doing it to be lazy (which may just be me), but I'm a kinesthetic (sp?) learner, which means taking notes and paying attention in that manner helps sear in the information in my brain. It also forces you to occlude information, and consolidate, instead of simply typing nearly word for word (which is usually just by brain saying, 'I'll retake this lecture later.') I'm just saying, like most synthetic inventions (margerine, vitamins, artificial suntanning) there are usually always drawbacks compared to the harder, "natural" method. Maybe that's just me though.

Re:Banning LAPTOPS?! (4, Interesting)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117176)

Those must be some insanely simple classes you are taking. Not sure how great a laptop would be in real time for writing complex formulas, or diagrams of how things like a thermo system or airfoil work.

Maybe a tablet that let you freehand sketch accurately in addition to typing. I still think that would be rather clumsy compared to a pencil and notebook.

Where I come from... (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116578)

If you spend all your class time surfing the web, you should fail.

If your students are able to pass without paying any attention to you, you must not teach very much in your lectures. And if you don't teach anything, well, why should they pay attention?

Re:Where I come from... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116700)

Lectures are about the worst way to learn anything. Almost any other learning style is better.

Having said the above, you're probably right. I'm too lazy to find the citation but some chemistry profs conducted a study of student attendance at lectures vs. academic success. The students who attended all the lectures did ok. The students who attended none of the lectures also did ok. The students whose attendance was spotty flunked.

I'm guessing that the students surfing the web while they should be paying attention won't do very well. The big thing is time management. Law school has (around here anyway) a huge workload. Any wasted time compromises ones chances for success.

Re:Where I come from... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116718)

Not all students are the same. In my Eco101 class I had a hard time paying any attention it was so boring. I aced every test. I did crosswords in class, because if I didn't I'd drift away entirely and discover half an hour later I hadn't heard a word. Other people in that class found the material challenging. So you think I should have failed and the teacher sucked? That's a very narrow minded viewpoint.

I solved the problem by not taking any more 101 classes for my electives. Of course it hurt my grades (B's instead of A's), but I learned a lot more. Decades later, no one cares what my GPA was, but I still remember many of the things I learned.

No system is perfect for everyone, but college should not be taught like high school. Please give kids the freedom to fail, so they can learn from it.

Re:Where I come from... (1)

neuromancer23 (1122449) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116766)

Or pay you their money for that matter. I thought the University of Chicago was supposed to be about economic freedom? I think Milton Friedman is rolling over in his grave....

Where I come from...things cost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116788)

"If you spend all your class time surfing the web, you should fail."

Considering how much school costs these days. Why would anyone in their right mind waste their time surfing the Internet? If all students want is a fast connection, then there are cheaper ways to do it?

Re:Where I come from... (5, Insightful)

compass46 (259596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116986)

Because actual learning isn't just about passing a damn test. It's about intellectual curiosity and absorbing ideas from others which in turn spark new ideas within yourself. Too many people are simply satisfied with being able to memorize someone else's words without ever having formulated their own unique and creative thoughts. These people pass tests but they're boring as hell.

Re:Where I come from... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117248)

Intellectual curiosity? What's that?

Nevermind, another Reality TV show is on....

Re:Where I come from... (1)

carolusmagnus (1235842) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116998)

Attendance at lectures was not required when I was an engineering undergraduate. Nor was it required when I was a chemistry graduate student. Only later, when I went to medical school, did I encounter faculty petty (or insecure) enough to require attendance at lectures. Evidently law faculty are the same. That was before the internet, so I always took a textbook or medical journal to read during bad lectures. I doubt anyone would have the nerve to ban textbooks from class.

Re:Where I come from... (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117138)

I agree with that opinion. However, where I attend (a small community college) the problem needs to be addressed, but it has equally as much to do with bandwidth constraints as it does classroom attention.

In the computer labs people looking at youtube or myspace together can cause distraction, which is decidedly unfair to students who *do* wish to learn.

Furthermore, for computer-related classes, bandwidth is limited due to users accessing bandwidth-greedy multimedia content. Some of my teachers *use* the network during class time to show sources of information, highlite interesting facts or things for students, or even to copy VMs and software over the LAN so that students can get a hands-on approach to learning. When the bandwidth is eaten by youtube and myspace and it hampers the ability of a teacher to perform his instruction, it should be banned.

Apparently the school is considering blacklisting those two sites on in the computer labs, and will allow access to them through any other means (wireless) or in the library.

Personally I equate it to bringing in a video player or something similar to class or being on the telephone: get the fuck out of the room if you dont want to be there. I *want* to be there, I *want* to learn and i want *NO* distractions while Im doing it.

Re:Where I come from... (1)

emaname (1014225) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117230)

You're absolutely right. And speaking of people's rights, it worries me that some of these slackers might actually become lawyers. At this point, if I need a lawyer (God forbid), the first thing I'm going to do is check their diploma to see where they got their degree. If it's from the U of Chicago, forget it. I'll look somewhere else.

Heh, newbies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116580)

Back when I was a newbie to the online scene I did the same thing. This was back in the early 80's though. I would spend all day dialing one BBS after another (then starting over again).

The technology is just addictive at first. The remote socialization is fun even for "normal" (non-geek) people and they tend to go overboard. I remember doing the matchmaking and all that as a teen. It was fun.

Nowadays though I don't use IM, my e-mail is work-only and I have no desire to use an online dating service even though I'm divorced now. Eventually everyone else will get to this point.

Time to transfer . . . (5, Funny)

The Zen Cow Says Mu (1209760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116600)

To the University of Californy. I hear they still have some internets there.

Re:Time to transfer . . . (1)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116746)

you would only get 40 seconds per family.

Re:Time to transfer . . . (1)

PawNtheSandman (1238854) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116946)

More than enough time to look at German Fart sites.

referring to that same episode (1)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116854)

you cant just go back to playboy

Bill of Rights nazi says (-1, Offtopic)

palewook (1101845) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116616)

No soup for you.

1995 called.... (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117018)

It wants its joke back, kthx.

Apparently Law Students Can't Be Trusted (5, Funny)

areReady (1186871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116632)

One would think that an institution of higher education, particularly one dedicated to post-graduate studies, would be able to trust its students to know what was good for them.

If they spend too much lecture time on the intarblags, it will be reflected in their grades.

Re:Apparently Law Students Can't Be Trusted (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116698)

Is having to repeat questions twice because half the class isn't paying attention good for the other half of the class that paid for the class and want to get something productive out of it?

Re:Apparently Law Students Can't Be Trusted (2, Funny)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117042)

Sorry, what?

Re:Apparently Law Students Can't Be Trusted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117136)

Is having to repeat questions twice because half the class isn't paying attention good for the other half of the class that paid for the class and want to get something productive out of it?


Then the students should complain and get the status quo changed... not the I'm-so-offended-they're-not-paying-attention-sit-on-my-ass-I've-got-tenure-faculty.

I don't know where you people are, but at my podunk Tier 2 school you're afraid to NOT pay attention in most cases as the profs who can actually teach will handily make an ass out of you in record time. The Socratic method can be a bitch when you're on the receiving end. Many of the profs who get their panties in a wad about surfing during class are the same ones who can't teach worth a damned.

Once upon a time some students were pissed about a group of other students who could not manage to shut the hell up in the law library. The dean was approached, directives were issued and enforced.. case closed. The same should happen for in-class net access.

Re:Apparently Law Students Can't Be Trusted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116760)

Good pedagogy involves forcing people to do things that they wouldn't do normally, so as to help them learn. Otherwise, all courses would be graded on the basis of a 100% final exam.

Re:Apparently Law Students Can't Be Trusted (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116856)

> Otherwise, all courses would be graded on the basis of a 100% final exam.

That's sort of how law school works. Sure, you get course grades, but the whole point is to prepare you for the Bar exam, and for a future career as a lawyer. The proof is in the result.

Re:Apparently Law Students Can't Be Trusted (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117222)

Good pedagogy involves forcing people to do things that they wouldn't do normally, so as to help them learn. Otherwise, all courses would be graded on the basis of a 100% final exam.
Most law school class grades /are/ based 100% on a final exam.

IANAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116634)

If I were, I wouldn't be able to post here anyway. Man, this typewriter sure is heavy.

What the hell??? (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116642)

This isn't high school, it's college . The people there are paying good money to be there (well, at least their parents are...). If a student wants to cheat himself of the maximum benefit of a very costly education bu dicking around on the Web during lectures, that should be his lookout. As long as they're not bothering other students, I don't see how this is an issue.

Re:What the hell??? (5, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116748)

When lecture time is wasted because a professor has to repeat his question twice for all the students that aren't paying attention, it hurts the quality time of the other part of the class who do want to get their money's worth for the class. It is an issue.

The folks surfing during class aren't just cheating themselves. They are cheating the other people in the class who are trying to learn.

Re:What the hell??? (2, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116878)

The professor should be running the class: why is he slowing it down because of the people who aren't paying attention? Why would he allow people who sleep in class get access to him during office hours? Why would he have one iota of care beyond the students which are engaged and actually, you know, part of the class?

Aren't we supposed to be adults at that level of education?

I know I've had a few classes in college that didn't teach me anything I didn't already know but had to take them anyway due to prerequisites. Should I have been forced to show up to class beyond the exams and stare at a wall for 90 minutes?

Heh, maybe I just had the dignity to sleep late instead of coming in to class and playing Quake in the lecture hall.

Re:What the hell??? (1)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117050)

Actually, in the U.S., it is not college, it is graduate school, where the students are receiving a Master's/Doctoral level degree (juris doctor/L.L.B.).

Parents don't pay for law school, usually. Most students take out loans, or have scholarship, and are paying out of their own pockets, so if they want to ignore professors, its fine with me, its their money, as long as they aren't interrupting the class.

In order to understand why law students are goofing off in class, you have to understand the structure of lectures and the attitudes of professors.

Traditionally, classes were done in a pure Socratic method, with students being called on during class and harshly questioned (and usually berated for being stupid). If you weren't paying attention, you were singled out and humiliated in front of the class. Much like how real life judges berate lawyers for being late and being unprepared for trial.

Of course, this method of teaching, which is to teach yourself by briefing cases, coming to class, and having your thoughts corrected, fell out of favor, especially at elite universities, for more calm lecture style classes.

Another thing to remember is that the law is the law, and that a professor can only give so much insight into what the law is. A student should be able to teach himself what the law is, without guidance. The professor is there to answer questions and to offer instruction and to teach students to think like lawyers.

What about positive uses of the internet in classrooms? Looking up cases and relevant statutes? The cases in law books are often abridged...

Next up... (5, Funny)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116666)

University of Pheonix follows suit.

Re:Next up... (0)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116796)

...and the University of Firefox.

Just let them fail.. (4, Interesting)

Galaga88 (148206) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116670)

I can appreciate the reason they're taking such extreme measures, but wouldn't it be better for everybody if they just let the people goofing off in class fail?

I always assumed that once you hit college the hand-holding by instructors was supposed to stop.

Maybe they could use group projects to fix the problem. I know in my college classes I was a righteous dick to any group members who just goofed off on the Internet rather than contributing towards the project.

I loved my system analysis and design class where we could 'fire' group members for poor performance (and trust me, people did.)

Re:Just let them fail.. (3, Insightful)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116778)

Would you hold class in the center of a crowded mall? The very nature of a college, or classroom, is a controlled environment to further learning. Controlling the student's ability to access the internet is no different than the four walls posted around them to keep them from seeing the rest of the world.

Internet access in the classroom always seemed to me like a boon from the "ignorant IT gods" of hasty wireless implementation by blithering idiots who didn't know how to make it secret and only let professors in the building have access (or smart peoplel like us.). It never made sense that it would continue long past this point, kind of like internet tax freedom or net neutrality. Once people realize its just too good to be true, they're going to stamp down it somewhere.

But no, controlling internet access in a classroom is not hand holding, its simply a common-sense measure to direct attention towards the teacher, like facing all the chairs in the same direction at the beginning of the class.

Re:Just let them fail.. (1)

Galaga88 (148206) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117060)

Would you hold class in the center of a crowded mall? The very nature of a college, or classroom, is a controlled environment to further learning. Controlling the student's ability to access the internet is no different than the four walls posted around them to keep them from seeing the rest of the world.


Internet access in the classroom always seemed to me like a boon from the "ignorant IT gods" of hasty wireless implementation by blithering idiots who didn't know how to make it secret and only let professors in the building have access (or smart peoplel like us.). It never made sense that it would continue long past this point, kind of like internet tax freedom or net neutrality. Once people realize its just too good to be true, they're going to stamp down it somewhere.


But no, controlling internet access in a classroom is not hand holding, its simply a common-sense measure to direct attention towards the teacher, like facing all the chairs in the same direction at the beginning of the class.

Oh, I completely agree that they have the right to do this, it just seems a little bit of an overreaction to outright disable Internet access.

I will concede the possibility that people's Internet use in class is so widespread and disruptive to everybody else that this was the best approach to the problem, but that seems unlikely.

This is speaking as somebody who frequently uses the Internet in class to augment his learning via looking up unfamiliar terms or finding more in depth explanations of things the professor mentions.

Re:Just let them fail.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117118)

I always assumed that once you hit college the hand-holding by instructors was supposed to stop.

Why should college be any different than any other baby-sitting service?



Essentially college is just a place where you learn things yourself while passing tests devised to justify charging you tuition. Every worth-while piece of information I learned in university classes was learned on my own. The classwork was just prep for tests.

Passing the buck. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116674)

"Things will get interesting when Sprint WiMax service lights up in Chicago later this year."

Why should it? The problem will be on someone else network. And what makes you think Sprint wants it?

Surfing problem = Cuttoff a great resource? Stupid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116684)

The whole idea of "Let's get rid of the internet in classrooms to prevent surfing" is a concept similar to "let's get rid of hands because they can steal". The internet is a growing resource that is highly useful. Want to find a definition of a word? Look up a new concept in greater detail? Too bad.

If the kids are surfing the internet in class and they are not extremely bright, they will struggle and probably fail. But why would they cut off a useful resource for the students who pay attention?

I think this is going to be useless for one reason; if people are still allowed to bring laptops to class, they will just distract themselves offline. Solitaire or whatever else, those who aren't paying attention will just find other ways to do it.

that is a great idea (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116688)

I think if I didn't have internet access in my law school classes my GPA would have definitely been a little higher.

I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116704)

Why would the school or university care if their students are wasting their own time and money by surfing the web in class?

I graduated before the age of ubiquitous laptops and wi-fi, so this wasn't a problem. Even still we had our distractions and it probably irked certain professors to know that they didn't have the rapt attention of every single person in the room. Generally speaking though, we were left alone as long as our snoring didn't disturb others.

I wonder if these profs take a roll call before every lecture. Does the school have truant officers on staff to keep these law students on the straight-and-narrow?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

cbart387 (1192883) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117292)

None of my teachers (grad level comp sci) have ever taken attendance. That is, barring the first couple days to make sure the class list is accurate. They've always reacted the way you mentioned, ignoring people who aren't disrupting the class.*

I could see how surfing the internet could be considered disruptive. Have you ever been in a movie theater and someone was using the brightly lit cell phone for something stupid (like a game or texting)? Highly annoying! I could see how surfing the internet/etc would be distracting to the rest of the students in the class.

* Except for one professor who quizes students in class to make sure they're understanding the material.

Instead, just force people to make a decision (5, Insightful)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116706)

The right solution is, IMO, to simply ban laptops from being open during lectures. It sends the same message as people using laptops during meetings basically: if you can't be arsed to even pay attention (to the lecture, or the meeting), why are you there in the first place. For meetings it may be the case that you are basically "forced" to attend, however this is seldom the case for lectures (at least at my university).

So I fully understand lecturers who urge (or force) people to make a conscious decision *either* to stay in the lecture room and (at the very least pretend to) pay attention, or if you don't feel like paying attention, want to browse the internet, or absolutely *have* to chat with your neighbour about the previous weekend, can you please just go to the lunchroom next door, thank you so much and don't let the door hit you on the way out. Because it's not like anybody is *forcing* you to be there. If you think you'll do fine by reading the lecture sheets and/or the book, you're free to do so (and in many cases that's perfectly possible, too).

If you want to take notes during the lecture (the excuse everyone uses), paper still works just fine, as it has for ages.

Re:Instead, just force people to make a decision (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117090)

If you want to take notes during the lecture (the excuse everyone uses), paper still works just fine, as it has for ages.

So does chiselling hieroglyphs on little stone pyramids, but that's not a good reason to eschew new technology.

The argument against banning laptops/intartubes access is bullshit, because it presupposes that:

  1. Every single moment in a lecture contains vital information.
  2. Students are incapable of multitasking, or determining what's important and what is filler.
  3. That the customer (the student) is wrong.

It fails every rational test. It's about ego, pure and simple. Lecturers are having hissy fits because their customers aren't a captive audience any more, and they want the old days back, when they could pretend that sleeping students were just listening really attentively. They may as well order the tide not to come in.

Re:Instead, just force people to make a decision (3, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117224)

Paper works terribly. My writing is not only slow, but it's almost illegible; organizing notes is a nightmare, as is attaching handouts and sending them to other students if necessary, and have you ever tried to run a search on a piece of paper? It doesn't work. All my notes are typed, and I use the internet ceaselessly in class- as an immediate, on-the-spot information resource for discussion and in-depth reference on a specific topic. I would refuse categorically to attend any institution which prohibits me from making use of the two most effective educational tools ever invented, after books.

What is this, high school? (1)

peipas (809350) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116708)

What do they care as long as they get their check in the mail?

FWIW, here [uchicago.edu] is a link to an article from the university's website.

Re:What is this, high school? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117066)

What do they care as long as they get their check in the mail?
Good schools tend to have faculty that cares a lot more about the learning than the pay.

It's been worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116730)

During the dot-com boom, a decent number of Harvard Law School students would show up for only two days of class every semester: the first day (to get the syllabus) and the last day (to take the final). They spent the rest of the semseter out west making bank. Since then, HLS has instituted a mandatory attendance policy.

lawyers can use the internet? (1)

conark (871314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116752)

i didn't even realize they could turn on their computer.

kitteh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116770)

The Lolcat market will crash!

Wow. Just... wow. (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116780)

It used to be that we only had idiots running the public schools, now it appears we have idiots running at least one university.

If I were going to school there, I'd transfer to a different school, there are a lot of them in the area. Perhaps U of C should rename itself "Luddite University"?

Kids, this comment came from a 56 year old geezer. I can only imagine how a young person who grew up with the internet would feel about this, it's like if SIU had outlawed using electricity when I was in college in the seventies.

Wow.

There's an uncyclopedia article about the guy who implimented U of C's stupid anti-internet rule [uncyclopedia.org] .

-mcgrew

Re:Wow. Just... wow. (2, Insightful)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116824)

The problem is that U of C is one of the most respected law schools in the nation. The administrators can do whatever they want--the school has, like, a 5% acceptance rate.

Re:Wow. Just... wow. (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117032)

Yes, they have been a very respected school. However, they just lost my respect.

Re:Wow. Just... wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117220)

The problem is that U of C is one of the most respected law schools in the nation.

Fortunately GP has pointed out that it is "run by idiots". As news of this gets out, their ranking should drop quickly.

Escalating the confict (1)

Aram Fingal (576822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116792)

Things will get interesting when Sprint WiMax service lights up in Chicago later this year.
They could build a Faraday cage [wikipedia.org] around the classroom. I've heard that the wire mesh used for some forms of stucco can make a Faraday cage that will block cell phone signals. There's a restaurant in my area where that happened by accident and many of the customers like it and go there when they want to be off the grid for a while.

You'd be surprised what these students do (4, Interesting)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116794)

At my law school, students would sometimes view porn on their computers during class--this was very distracting in the tiered rooms, where about 15 students behind the "perpetrator" could see what was happening. It wasn't common but I sometimes heard complaints that "so-and-so would look at porn to try to distract everyone behind him." I imagine it didn't help his own scores either, though. Other students would sometimes send crazy stuff over email during class in order to embarass the person or distract him. Chatting, of course, was rampant during class--that may have been a bit distracting. For example, the teacher will have been silent, and there's nothing to take notes on at the moment, and you hear several people typing like crazy and snickering oblivious to their surroundings--more annoying when that person's right next to you.

Sadly, after the grades came out, it seemed that chatting and porn viewership had a low correlation with scores. (i.e. I actually took notes but was middle of the road for grades)

Re:You'd be surprised what these students do (2, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116942)

So, how would your school react to a student doing disruptive things like squirting a watergun at other classmates or breaking a stinkbomb or chatting away on a cell phone? The professor would likely demand they leave at a minimum, probably recommend disciplinary action if it's a regular occurrance up to an including expulsion.

I don't see why they can't treat electronically disruptive individuals the same way they would treat conventionally disruptive individuals.

Re:You'd be surprised what these students do (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116970)

Sure, but those things are obvious to the professor without any mention from the students. The problem is that no one wants to say "Professor, Pedro is looking at porn."

Re:You'd be surprised what these students do (2, Funny)

Reader X (906979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117034)

It strikes me that the viewing of Internet porn in class can be easily remedied with a water pistol.

Re:You'd be surprised what these students do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117202)

Wait a minute. You did an experiment where the analyzer had a control group, but (aside from a single person) didn't know who they were? And you still managed to make conclusions from it?

Would that be called a "triple-blind" experiment?

I'm in class right now (0, Redundant)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116846)

By the way, I just submitted this during class.

Re:I'm in class right now (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117036)

By the way, I just submitted this during class.

You have no class.

I also wondered before.... (1)

Bytal (594494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116866)

since many professors in my school had the same view of using laptops in class. I gave the same reasons that they should be a nanny to their class.

Some time later, a friend who became a professor, instituted the same policy. He always browsed as a student so I asked why he would do something like this. His explanation was simple: "It's for my benefit, not theirs. Most of the time I just don't want to remind myself and maybe even my administration that my classes are boring and useless and can be replaced with paper handouts."

This friend has since tried other more creative ways such never providing lecture slides online, and making sure that he mentions important details only in class.

The power of tenure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23116870)

I wonder if internet surfing would be a problem if lectures, in fact, added value to a law student's education. My law school experience was that IF you went to class, it was only for the purpose of gauging the teacher's preferred style of thinking so that you would know how to communicate your answer on a final. Other than that, there was nothing I couldn't learn faster through a commercial outline. What is more, a reality is that very little of the content taught in a national law school such as the University of Chicago has application to the real world of law. Sure, from time-to-time the discussions can be thought-provoking and interesting. But strikes me as being more along the lines of entertainment, not education.

It's just a test... (1)

Uebergeek (549636) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116876)

As a former computer scientist turned lawyer, I appreciated it when they tried to block internet access in the classrooms in my law school. They didn't count on directional wi-fi antennas picking up the residual signal from the courtyard (which had wireless access). This had the wonderful advantage of preventing the non-computer-geeks, who were watching streaming basketball games and such before the access was blocked) from soaking my bandwidth. It was great to have most of the law school's backbone available for my data-transmission needs...

the lectures need to be more then just reading out (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116884)

The lectures need to be more then just reading out a book and more then just a show up to be there thing then less people will be playing games in them.

Our law school (NUSL) never used to allow it (2, Funny)

drhamad (868567) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116888)

I'm a 3L at Northeastern, and they never used to allow internet access in the classrooms. Access points were carefully spaced so that they wouldn't reach the classrooms. Then this year, the University finally came to the law school and said "No. You have to have 100% wireless access throughout the entire school." Basically, the University strong-armed the school into 100% wireless because they wanted to be able to brag to US News /etc that the entire University was 100% wireless.

The result? Well, I'm sitting in class right now, so you take your pick.

Book Burning (1)

Forrest Kyle (955623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116902)

So now that they've banned laptops and the internet, are they going to ban books? Because people are just going to start bringing books to read in class. Personally, I hate lecture and I never pay attention as a matter of principle. I just read books and do other homework while the teacher rambles on. I don't care because my learning time is much more efficient when I'm learning out of the book. I skip class a lot, I never pay attention, and I get A's and B's. (In electrical engineering). This policy is really aggrivating to people like me who can't stand listening to some guy regurgitate the textbook at 1/2 speed.

Re:Book Burning (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116948)

This policy is really aggrivating to people like me who can't stand listening to some guy regurgitate the textbook at 1/2 speed.
Maybe you should just enroll in a better school.

Quick Anecdotal Story (1)

PatboyX (968493) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116908)

I can understand how a teacher would feel seeing half of the students zoning out and surfing the web. But I was in a computer class on the morning of 9/11 and the only way any of us knew that it had happened and what was going on was because of the internet. Maybe someone would have stopped by the class but I think most people were concerned and calling friends and family. I should note that I went to college not far outside of D.C. Anyway, I'm not sure how I feel about this but I think there is a happy medium somewhere between unbridled access and complete lockdown (except for facilitating "occasional computer training.")

Unwarranted (1)

snib (911978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23116980)

Seems to me the college classroom environment shouldn't warrant a ban like this. The students are paying for the class - if they don't want to pay attention and get good grades, it's their loss. Web surfing isn't going to disturb the other students in the class and therefore the problem is on an individual level - a place where, IMO, the university shouldn't interfere.

Next thing you know they'll be building Faraday shields into all the classrooms....

Won't anyone think of the Children! (3, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117006)

Doesn't the law school know that some of of the 20 somethings today can die without a constant net connection? FFS, you could at least try scaling them back to handhelds first!

Tells us couple of things about the professors (1)

bgerlich (1035008) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117026)

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought this is one of the most prestigious law schools in the States. In this prestigious law school lecturers can't keep order in their classes in ways other than school-wide edicts. They don't sound like qualified educators to me ...

A place for everything (2, Insightful)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117028)

As much as an internet junkie as I am, I don't think the classroom (in general) is the place for it, any more than talking on a cell phone, or cooking a meal would be appropriate. It's a place where you're supposed to pay attention and take part in a discussion, not check your facebook constantly. If you don't want to go to the lecture, don't; get someone else's notes, read the text, or whatever. But if I'm a prof (and I was, part time, awhile back) I'm not going to waste my time interacting with a class that is doing something else at the time.

And it's not just people doing other things. I did a couple of seminars on Java in its early days, at a progressive local university, that had internet (wired) at every seat. Only a couple of people were using it, but it's awfully hard to get across concepts when people are constantly googling what you say and trying to point out problems or sound smart before you finish getting a point across.

A lot of the time in teaching, you have to start with generalizations to get the general concept across, some of which aren't 100% correct, technically; then you delve into the details clarifying those points. (As a broad example in another field, teaching newtonian physics as a basis for relativistic stuff.) One smartass with Google/Wiki can ruin that process for the whole class.

(On the other hand, those who are genuinely curious about something that is said and want to take a quick detour, I could support; but like most liberties, where there's a tendency towards abuse, you sometimes have reduced those liberties in certain agreed upon circumstances. It's similar to the cell phones on planes arguments. There are those that would use it respectfully, moderately, and quietly; but there would typically be a more noticable inconsiderate contingent that would just drive everyone nuts.)

Internet as a Learning Tool (1)

Reikachu (1192089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117102)

Free use of the Internet has a place in the classroom. I often use Google, Wikipedia, etc. during class to get an alternative perspective, or to clarify a point that the professor is failing to convey to me (and this is not the professor's fault, it is simply the case that no professor can explain everything to everyone all the time). As one takes more and more advanced courses, and the topics presented become more and more bleeding edge and controversial, this use of the Internet becomes more and more important. A ban on laptops would be doubly horrendous, not only for reasons mentioned, but also because electronic notes are *vastly* superior to paper. Since I started taking them on my laptop, both the quality and usefulness of my notes have risen dramatically.

Who Cares? (2, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117104)

They've already paid. What they do during lectures is there business. Plenty of people--in general--can pass classes without paying attention. Many people just go for the wittle piece 'o paper saying that they do indeed know the material, despite already being well versed in it.

cell phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117188)

At least when someone is using a laptop it is obvious. A school-wide ban like that is probably overkill, individual professors can choose to limit laptop use in their classes as they see fit, if they are against students using laptops in class. You can't hide a laptop in your pocket (yet). I see cell phone/blackberry usage in class as a much worse problem. There is rampant cheating during exams enabled by cell phones, text messaging answers (especially on multiple-choice-based exams), etc. I would be in favor of large lecture halls, where exams are usually given, being shielded to prevent the use of cell phones during exams.

no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23117218)

As a university student myself, I'd seriously consider transferring if such a policy was taken in my department at my university.

I'm not one to slack. I take my studies seriously. I usually take my notes on my laptop. Sometimes if something is mentioned I want more information on, or if the professor was moving too fast for me to take down everything on a subject, I'll look it up on wikipedia. Or if we're having a class discussion, I'll find sources to back up my arguments beyond "well I read it this one time".

However, I do fully admit I do sometimes browse the internet. If we're covering material I already know, or moving so slowly my full attention is not needed to absorb the material, I'll open up firefox.

I feel this is my right as a student. If my professor isn't able to give quality information for a whole lecture, then why should I give him my attention for a full lecture?

The Amish Method (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117232)

They must of read my post [slashdot.org] from a few months back and started to implement it. Now all they have to do is ban technology and electricity and they'll be set.

At least they started to make amends to the music and movie industries, but they have a long way to go.

Emulators during lecture (3, Funny)

Prototek (937689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23117264)

Surfing the internet during class is one of the more benign uses of a laptop. Besides actually interrupting class, having someone with a full-screen SNES emulator playing a flashy RPG in front of you so you can see their screen is way more egregious. Seeing someone watch a movie during lecture is also
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