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Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-farmville-for-you dept.

Education 804

theodp writes "If you were a college prof, think you could successfully compete for the attention of a lecture hall of Mac-packing students? CS student Carolyn blogs that a debate has sprung up on her campus about whether it is acceptable to use a laptop in class. And her school is hardly alone when it comes to struggling with appropriate in-classroom laptop use (vendor/corporate trainers would no doubt commiserate). The problem, she says, is that the OCD Facebookers aren't just devaluing their own education — there's a certain distraction factor to worry about. 'Students,' she suggests, 'should also communicate with each other more and tell their classmates when their computer use bothers them. I'll admit it, when I'm trying to pay attention to the lecture, even someone's screensaver in the row ahead of me can be a major distraction.'"

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College is a choice... (3, Insightful)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708280)

College is a choice, if students decide to squander it, banning laptops won't fix it.

Besides, they'd just pull out their iPhones then. ;)

Depends on the case. (3, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708284)

It all depends on what is done in the classroom if a laptop (or other device) can be used or not.

During some laborations the use of a laptop can be good since it allows the students to have a location where to make notes and share them, but in other cases it may be a distraction instead. Don't forget the information overload factor - education is often about how to come to a conclusion yourself, not to draw on other people's conclusions.

No they shouldn't (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708286)

I type all my university notes. I'm able to work faster than if I was writing, can research if I didn't understand something, can format it into an understandable piece.

Yes you get distracted. But you know what I do when I have paper and I'm bored ? I doodle or daydream. You're still going to do something else to pass the time. If you can't stay attentive, stop bringing it yourself. There's no need to remove it for everyone else.

College is a choice.... (0)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708290)

College is a choice, if students decide to squander it, banning laptops won't magically fix the problem.

Besides, students would just pull out their iPhones.

No they shouldn't... (1)

citoxE (1799926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708294)

If anything, that should be a decision left up to the professors. For the college itself to ban laptop use would be a bad call on all fronts. What it boils down to is what utility a laptop provides for a specific class. If it's a literature class where most of the learning is done through presentations and textbooks, then using a laptop in that specific class wouldn't be that important. If, on the other hand, you're taking a physics course and you have supplemental programs that aid you in doing whatever you need to do, then laptop use is a must if there is no other means to proficiently complete coursework at school. If a professor notices a lot of students are just browsing the internet and not doing class relevant work, then I think the professor should have the authority to restrict use.

As a college student... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708300)

I was a college student until this year and from what I've seen the answer is definitely that it's legitimate to ban laptops in class. Before blaming the teachers for being boring, we should blame people for having no manners. Especially when attendance isn't mandatory, why even go to class just to make noise and play games on laptops?

I don't need no steenkin' permission... (1)

SummitCO (1043824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708304)

I do not need permission to take notes in class. My handwriting is illegible and painfully slow. If not for laptops, I would be back to middle school where I sat and listened rather that flail at note-taking, only to be criticized by my teachers for not taking notes. While schools might consider the availability of unrestricted WiFi in the classroom, I frequently learn more by being able to research a topic on the web as the teacher lectures. That said, no student has the right to disrupt others.

Or other way around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708312)

Should classroom education be banned, and lets do learning using their laptops?
Let the students form natural(voluntarily) study groups, download the video lecture, discuss and ask/email the professor if needed.

Yes, you are right (4, Insightful)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708316)

Yes, let's ban a useful tool because some people are too meek to ask others to stop doing distracting things with their laptops. [rolls eyes] When did people become so afraid? Is it really that hard to respectfully ask someone to change their behavior so as not to disturb others? Are we to ban a useful technology in the classroom because of a handful of bozos?

Here's a technological solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708326)

How about just jamming Wi-fi? No internet, no facebook, but they can still use their computers to run Mathematica or whatever.

Hmm.... (1)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708330)

I suffer from hyper mobility in my fingers, if I wasn't allowed to use my laptop to type my notes I would have quickly fallen far behind as my writing speed is horrendous and painful.

They shouldn't assume that laptops act as a distraction to everybody, if a computer in front of someone else is a distraction to you then you're clearly looking for a distraction and just need something to blame.

For the most part yeah. (1)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708334)

You really should be communicating with your profs during class, not dinking around on your laptop. Unless you type quite a bit faster than most hunt and peckers, you're going to take better notes with pen and paper anyway, and there are relatively few situations where you really need a computer during class as a tool.

What really should be banned is the use of PowerPoint lectures. You know the ones..... where your prof essentially scanned all the relevant sections of the textbook and then cruises through 200 screens of unreadable shrunken slides at light speed while staring at his laptop. Most folks use it as a crutch rather than a visual aid to get a handful of important points across visually, or provide a persistent framework for discussion. It's irritating. I'd much rather see the chalk board in use, screeching and all... at least then the instructor is forced to cover the material at the speed it takes him/her to think through it, giving you enough time to grok it during the lecture.

Why not ban mandatory attendence of lectures? (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708338)

I spent my undergraduate years at an American university and then moved to Europe for the remainder of my academic years. Imagine how happy I was to find that here lectures are not obligatory -- the exams are rigorous, the expectations clearly laid out in a syllabus, and you're welcome to study on your own and show up on the last day of the course and show your knowledge. While some fields may actually impart useful knowledge through lectures, in so many fields one can get the same information from books.

So why not just make lectures optional? The students who are likely to simply surf the net can be absent, while those who come will probably want to be there.

Try this. (4, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708340)

"[W]hen I'm trying to pay attention to the lecture, even someone's screensaver in the row ahead of me can be a major distraction."

How about having the ones with laptops sitting in the back or the ones distracted sitting in front (perhaps depending on whichever is the larger group).

Who rules America? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708350)

THERE IS NO GREATER POWER in the world today than that wielded by the manipulators of public opinion in America. No king or pope of old, no conquering general or high priest ever disposed of a power even remotely approach- ing that of the few dozen men who control America’s mass media of news and entertainment.Their power is not distant and impersonal; it reaches into every home in America, and it works its will during nearly every waking hour. It is the power that shapes and molds the mind of virtually every citizen, young or old, rich or poor, simple or sophisticated.

The mass media form for us our image of the world and then tell us what to think about that image. Essentially ev- erything we know—or think we know—about events out- side our own neighborhood or circle of acquaintances comes to us via our daily newspaper, our weekly news magazine, our radio, or our television.

It is not just the heavy-handed suppression of certain news stories from our newspapers or the blatant propagan- dizing of history-distorting TV “docudramas” that charac- terizes the opinion-manipulating techniques of the media masters. They exercise both subtlety and thoroughness in their management of the news and the entertainment that they present to us.

For example, the way in which the news is covered: which items are emphasized and which are played down; the reporter’s choice of words, tone of voice, and facial ex- pressions; the wording of headlines; the choice of illustra- tions—all of these things subliminally and yet profoundly affect the way in which we interpret what we see or hear.

On top of this, of course, the columnists and editors remove any remaining doubt from our minds as to just what we are to think about it all. Employing carefully developed psychological techniques, they guide our thought and opinion so that we can be in tune with the “in” crowd, the “beautiful people,” the “smart money.” They let us know exactly what our attitudes should be toward various types of people and behavior by placing those people or that behavior in the context of a TV drama or situation comedy and having the other TV characters react in the Politically Correct way.


I'm a college (assistant) prof... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708352)

... and I don't care if students pay attention to me or not. If they don't, well, worse for them. As long as they don't bother the students that do pay attention, they can do whatever they want.

Or maybe remove the class. (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708358)

Wouldn't it make more sense to remove the class than the computer?

Put the teacher inside the screen and let the students decide where and when they want to study. Those who aren't able to manage the responsability will fail, as they should.

It's time to start treating people as adults and also to demand to be treated as such.

WTF? (1)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708362)

What kind of a retarded question is that? Banning classroom use of silly text books and writing on paper is what should be getting banned.

Depends.... (2)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708364)

I'm a little mixed on the topic. I've had horrible handwriting since I was a kid. But I had an excellent memory. Something I learned in middle school and high school was I had a choice: I could either take notes, to which I could read very little of if I went back later, or I could pay attention to the lecture and retain more of it. The exceptions were math/physics. Those classes I had to take notes as I'd understand the material in class, but if I went to do homework later that night or the next night, I wouldn't remember the finer points.

I had a laptop in college, rarely used it for note taking in class. Once again, for most classes I could take notes (paper or computer) or listen and learn the lecture. Again the exception being classes that were math intensive or subjects like Econ where drawing graphs were kinda hard on a computer.

That changed, however, when I was in Law School. There having a laptop was almost a must and a useful tool. I had hard copies of the texts, but also CD-rom's of the case law and the particular program made it extremely easy to highlight text and leave margin notes on the computer. Extremely useful when you're reading 300 pages a night and then needed to make references the next day in class. I'm not sure if I would have survived 1L with out those notes on the computer.

But I wasn't using it to *take* notes in class as much as search/recall information already stored from the night/day before.

Yes! (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708366)

Kill the laptops!

College was fine before the laptop was invented.

No, they should make the classes more difficult (3, Funny)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708368)

Students will be a lot less likely to be using Facebook in a class if it's their second time through.

But... (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708370)

Banning laptops in class would infringe on students' rights to attempt first post on every slashdot story! We can't let the trolls win! You aren't a troll sympathiser, are you?

Sit up the front. (1)

blarkon (1712194) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708372)

The only way to ensure that you aren't distracted by other students laptop use is to sit further towards the front of the lecture room. Students who waste time in lectures don't tend to sit in the front few rows.

Should we kill no-farmville-for-you dept? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708376)

Should we kill no-farmville-for-you dept because he/she keeps making up sensationalist headlines.

Fox news is over here => [] you fucking tool!

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708378)

Online classes.

Distractions (1, Redundant)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708380)

I'll admit it, when I'm trying to pay attention to the lecture, even someone's screensaver in the row ahead of me can be a major distraction.

Usually the hot girl in the short chick distracts me. Not someone's computer.

Adult students. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708384)

I have to remember that the Boomers were who taught me and its my selfish, self-aggrandizing peers who are teaching this generation of students. I would beg them to remember: this is college. This is university level. This is the big leagues. These are adult students.

If they want to attend; fine. If they want to ditch; fine. If they want to use their laptops in a way that does not disrupt the learning experiences of others? I say fine! They are paying for their classes and should be permitted to obtain as much or as little from them as they like.

Just as we were, who ate snacks, passed notes, or stayed plugged into our Walkman, or ditched altogether.

Yes, obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708386)

Facebook is for their social life. They should be studying.

Positive usage (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708388)

There are always those who use a notebook or netbook computer to help them learn. It can be used to take note (with a spell-check feature) or to look up additional information on the subject matter. By keeping people from using them you stop the people who will use it for a good reason.

If students can ban pointless classes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708392)

Half the classes I took my senior year of college were a complete waste of time. I don't mind wasting my time but theres classes were also poorly taught and were an insulting way of accruing student loan debt.

If teachers want to ban laptops than students must be able to ban pointless classes.

Laptop use essential (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708396)

Laptop use during lectures seems pretty essential for taking notes. Duh?

All these FUCKING NIGGERS with their laptops (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708398)


Internet vs Intranet classrooms, pick both. (1)

juasko (1720212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708400)

Kill the wireless internet access while your having such a subject that they would not need access to the internet. This could be done by having seperate base stations in each classroom and only give access to proxy and DNS servers for specific base stations. Thus creating classrooms that are only intranet capable and others internet capable.

Then you would get rid of the facebookers. Otherwise I think computers or tablets or computers should be the tool instead of blocks of paper and books here and there.

When I was in school I dreamed of an Apple Newton as my study-mate. As it was capable of handwriting recognitions, but anyway did not force that you could just write and store as image too.
But Neither the world and even less the schools of that time was ready for the Apple Newton, only I understood where it's biggest usability lied but could not afford it. :(

A better practice... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708402)

Would be to record the lecture, preferably with a small video camera, but audio in many cases is sufficient when combined with written notes. The laptop can be saved for later use, and the student can have a conversation with the Prof. to make video notes and lecture content available for the class as extra credit. Good for grades, no distraction, and you can use the laptop where it will actually do some good. The last thing we need is to make things harder for our attention deficit progeny.

Distractions (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708406)

I'll admit it, when I'm trying to pay attention to the lecture, even someone's screensaver in the row ahead of me can be a major distraction.

Computers are boring. The hot girl in the short skirt is a major distraction.

Laptop use essential. (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708408)

Laptop use during lectures seems pretty essential for taking notes. Duh?

First Post (0)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708412)

Students will pay attention if they think the material is useful or important, and will find other distractions otherwise.
Someone tapping away at their laptop is a lot less distracting than overhearing several conversations going on near me. If even a screensaver distracts you, removing laptops isn't going to improve things for you - I've seen many students using their phones similarly or doodling on their exercise books first hand.

Also, first post.

tough one (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708420)

As a prof. I would certainly expect everyone to close their laptop. At least while I'm speaking. There's something rude about people looking elsewhere while you speak to them.

As a former student though, plenty profs have wasted my time - a laptop would've allowed me to do something more useful. Now I ended up writing code on paper while many fellow students made drawings, did homework for other classes, etc.

A professor has the power (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708426)

Structure the lecture such that there are no downloadable notes, and that if you're not present and madly scribbling you fall hopelessly behind. My Operating Systems Pragmatics class back in prehistory (Dr Clevenger, if you're still alive, that was the most fun I've ever paid for) would qualify. Any lecture that you can sleep through frankly is time and money wasted.

Don't ban them outright (1)

Nialin (570647) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708432)

Instead, set rules within the class/system that there is an appropriate time for when students may use their portable computers. This way you can come to a compromise, as long as both sides become resolute in defending the policy.

If a student can't concentrate, it's his problem (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708436)

I brought a ThinkPad with me all the time when I was in college for easy access to lecture notes, book chapters that're posted in .pdf format, and also external references, and that didn't stop me at getting straight As from Comp. Sci. classes. Same for many of my friends. I've never been fond of the old stack-of-paper approach - paper get lost easily and are hard to organize when you have a large bunch of them, why bother?

For students who can manage it, bringing a laptop to class is progress. We should never stop progress because some loser can't concentrate with a laptop in front of him - that's a nanny policy. Arguably bad for high schools, and a big-NO for universities. What do you think university students are? 3-year-olds?

How about this... (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708438)

Get more creative with your teaching methods and embrace the inevitable.

Get over it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708440)

It's college, not daycare. If someone wants to spend the entire class drawing lol cats that's their prerogative. If you find this distracting, sit near the front. The first two rows are usually made up of people who are serious about learning.

I can see their point (1)

Ezekiel68 (652736) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708442)

It's tempting to frame this as a student freedom issue only, but I certainly find myself inadvertently distracted when others around me surf during meetings. I've gone so far as to move, as discreetly as possible (like during a break), when faced with this situation. It's not like a whole class of students could do that. Perhaps they could establish a row of seats at the back for laptop users?

Yes, but not for these reasons... (4, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708446)

Should laptops be banned? Yes. But let's ban them because writing offers better recall and less personal distractions. Frankly the argument that someone else reading facebook is distracting is almost laughable. I fail to see how facebook or slashdot are any more distracting on someone else's laptop than for example a word document or OneNote.

But as a sidebar I just want to point out how lame "college" has become. It used to be for those serious about their education or the academic subjects, but now it is just another mandatory level of education with the same behavioural problems from those who really have no wish to be in attendance. The fact that we're talking about treating 19 to 24 year olds like small children should tell you how silly the situation is becoming.

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708448)

Otherwise those pesky students can prove the teacher wrong...

Other students can always be a distraction (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708450)

You don't need a laptop to distract those around you; paper, conversation and actions all work. Wheras as a student I found taking notes on my laptop enormously beneficial. I would not want to be in a class that forbids them, any more than I would want to be in a class that forbids paper.

Tablet PC note-taking (1)

mdsharpe (1051460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708452)

When I was at uni, the best note-taking solution I found was the combination of a Tablet PC, MS OneNote, and the "Print to OneNote" feature that allowed me to import lecturers' slides into OneNote before lectures started. Having the slides in OneNote meant I didn't have to waste time copy the slides during the lecture, and could concentrate on what the lecturer was actually saying. The Tablet PC pen allowed for very flexible note-taking on top of each slide. Not trying to sound like a OneNote advertisement; I just think it's quite short-sighted to suggest banning a very valuable note-taking device in lecture halls.

Ban Facebook (2)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708456)

Block the problem, not the tool.

Like anything (1)

basotl (808388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708458)

Laptops can be a bane or improvement on the classroom environment. I think the better question is how to most appropriately take advantage of them

ADD (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708460)

Its a problem; laptop or no laptop.

I've sat in lectures 200+ students and there were plenty of people screwing off. I just didnt let it bother me. If you're taking a class to learn the material you need to pay attention. You want it or you don't. Its as simple as that

taking notes (2)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708466)

I never understood why students need to take notes. When I was in college I never took notes, instead I tried to listen and understand what was being said. The rest of the required information I got from the course material that was prepared by the teacher.

.... wth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708470)

"CS student Carolyn blogs" - seriously? This is front page /. story these days?

Well, maybe ... (1)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708472)

I certainly hate the trend of bringing laptops to meetings. The user may well claim to be saving paper by bringing the meeting documents on his laptop. But to everyone else at the meeting he might as well be checking his email, posting on FB or writing a novel.
As a university lecturer I don't see much of a trend to bring laptops to lectures: our students seem to prefer sleeping or not attending at all. But I think if I was faced with a wall of laptop backs when I looked at the audience I would suggest that their owners should close them down and pay attention to the lecture. Given that there might be some dyslexics who can take notes more easily with a keyboard, a better approach would be to walk around the theatre and publicly mock anyone who was reading email or facebook --- the radio mike and laser pointer mean that one is not stuck at the front of the room any more. Maybe mocking would be too harsh: one could just ask them a hard question about the subject of the lecture and wave the radio mike under their nose.

Why yes, since you ask, I am the BLFH.

All of our Students use Laptops.... (1)

dakohli (1442929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708474)

But the classes are very small. 8-12 The Instructor will give a control statement at the beginning of the class, allowing the students, or not to use their laptops.

They are not connected to the net, so the students really don't care usually. We have had very few problems in our classes.

I think it is a respect thing. It's one thing to take notes/record a lecture, but another to twitter/facebook. Ultimately I think it is plain rude.

I completely agree with the students policing themselves at College/Uni. Quite frankly, they are the ones that will pay in the end.

Oh please, we're adults (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708476)

Carolyn sez:

Having your laptop out not only distracts other students, but is disrespectful and discouraging to professors.

As far as I understand, most lecture participation is optional anyway (or should be!). As long as I can type quietly (if I do type, that is), I can’t see it being distracting or discouraging. I have got A’s in grad school in classes where I was reading Harry Potter most of the time. Using a notebook to work on something else would have been no different.

Wireless Jamming... (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708478)

Might be one way to prevent the Facebook and YouTube watching during lecture. But it would do nothing for DVD watching and gaming.

Yes (1)

jowilkin (1453165) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708480)

I absolutely agree that in many cases laptop bans can be helpful. Some people do actually use them to take notes, but the vast majority do not, and it is very distracting for the students who sit behind the laptop users. It's virtually impossible for your eyes not to be drawn to all the flashy lights and images flying by the computer screens in front of you as you try to pay attention to the lecture.

Ideally you could just ban laptop usage that was unrelated to the class, but that is very difficult to enforce and would be a strain on the professors time while they should be teaching.

It's part of an ongoing problem that schools do not yet know how to properly utilize technology in the classroom. Until they figure this out, technology can be a distraction instead of a benefit to students.

Education system is broken, obviously (2)

VeryLargeNumber (1394367) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708482)

I am working as researcher/post-grad student, and computer is the number one research tool. Like is hammer for a blacksmith. No surprises there.
When in the same place I work should "forbid" the major research tool in the classrooms, this is an obvious sight that the teaching system I-speak-and-you-listen-and-take-notes is broken. Or at least obsolete.
For most of the time I have been good student, and I am writing a doctoral dissertation now. One would expect I like lectures. Still, most of them are boring as hell. I didn't have smart phone/netbook when I was in high school (and I envy the nowadays students so much for having them), and guess what - when I got bored, I always find a way to distract myself. And the others. Chatting with a schoolmate during class is less distracting that launching a paper airplane, IMHO.

Wuntootree... (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708486)

1. My money, my education, my choice.

2. Distractions are everywhere in the 21st century. You probably wont get a job in a sensory-deprivation booth... more likely it will be a chaotic office/call center/lab/kitchen. Deal with it.

3. Who uses a frikkin' screen-saver on a laptop?

Move. (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708488)

"I'll admit it, when I'm trying to pay attention to the lecture, even someone's screensaver in the row ahead of me can be a major distraction.'"

Most laptop users (unless they are intently taking notes) don't sit in the front row.

Or since you're a CS student, if laptop user is sitting in 'n' row.
Sit in row m, such that mn.

If they're distracting the teacher, then sure remove them.

Looks about right (1)

bart416 (900487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708490)

Over here its at the lecturers discretion. For some classes (mainly those related to programming or IT in general) its allowed to use a laptop during lectures. On the other hand you really don't need to pull out your laptop during something related to math (they already complain about calculators there in fact...). I think that's the best system for it. Cause in some classes you really are better of using a laptop. Listening to somebody talk about a programming language for several hours without being able to actually try it out isn't very productive. And sure you might check facebook or slashdot once in a while. But if you weren't using a laptop you'd find some other way to keep yourself occupied. Like drawing, playing games on your phone, ...

OF course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708492)


How else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708494)

am I going to get first post?

What about responsability? (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708496)

I hate this "Something is bad. Ban it" Attitude.
Of all those Facebookers there are probably good students who use their laptops for something other than trivial comments. And, I don't know if I have some kind of jammer brain or something, but noise made in class never bothered me. If I wanted to concentrate with the lecture, I just had to. If you get distracted by someone's screensaver, crying and asking for every computer to be banned out of the college is as irresponsible as distracting others.

Just deal with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708502)

Sorry but I think if you get distracted by a screen-saver or someone going on Facebook you're the one who has a problem and you need to work on yourself to solve it. Many (I would even say most) students are not distracted, I wonder how they do it. I know I'm not. If I really want to listen to the lecture, I am perfectly capable of focusing my attention on the instructor's powerpoint presentation and speech.

Also, if you really don't want to see screen-savers, just sit in the front. Students with laptops usually sit near the walls so that they can plug their computers, and students who'd rather go on Facebook than listen to the lecture usually sit in the back. And of course, the closer to the front you are, the less people in front of you to distract you.
And I don't think I'm far from the truth when I say that motivated students prefer to sit in the front while students who don't really care prefer the seats in the back. So when I hear someone complain that they see too many distracting laptop screens, I think it is likely they are just lazy students who are looking for an excuse for their bad grades (in this case, laptops).

That, or someone is just jealous they can't afford a laptop. I think instead of banning laptops, we should kick out students who complain about them. They're obviously not fit for using modern technology, which makes them pretty much useless as employees for jobs that require a university degree. In other words, they're a waste of education. (I'm being sarcastic here, but I really do take issue with students who complain that they get distracted by laptops).

Typical case of "Can't be my fault, I'm too perfect, someone else must be responsible for my problems".

Let them know when it's okay to use them? (1)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708504)

It might be more reasonable to allow the students to bring their laptops, and then let them know when it's okay to have them out and when it's not. Y'know, like when you have them put their textbooks away during tests or have them put their pencils down when they're supposed to be watching something.

wifi jammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708506)

My little wifi jammer works pretty well, and confuses the hell out of my students.

Distracting Screensaver? (1)

KyoMamoru (985449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708508)

Seriously? What would you do if someone was doodling on their notebook in front of you? I'm not claiming to be the best artist in the world, but I've drawn countless scenes in my notebooks when I couldn't bring a laptop to school that would be infinitely more distracting than any screen-saver, baring the use of nudity. If people want to squander their money while in class, that's their fault.

A: No (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708510)

Any more than they should ban pen and paper and require students to chisel notes on stone slabs. Next stupid question?

Well I... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708514)


Well, that takes care of that.

Compromise (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708516)

With only the visual distraction to worry about, it would be enough to limit laptop use to the rear half (or third) of the auditorium. As long as the front rows are kept free of them, nobody has to sit behind a distracting screen.

Let them know when it's okay to use them? (1)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708520)

It might be more reasonable to let them know when they can open them up, and when they should be closed/put away. Y'know, like when you have the students put their textbooks in their bag during a test, or have them put their pencils down when they're supposed to be focusing their attention at the front of the class.

No (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708522)

Different people have different styles of note taking that works best for them. I use an HP tablet to take notes for grad school - people like me would be out several hundred dollars if the school decided to ban laptops because some people can't stop staring at another person's screen.

Attentive fashionistas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708524)

"If you were a college prof, think you could successfully compete for the attention of a lecture hall of Mac-packing students? "

No, but not from those using real computers!

Attention in class (1)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708526)

Profs shouldn't care if they're getting enough attention in class. That's the student's responsibility. They should grade the students appropriately and flunk them if they don't meet the expectations during evaluations/exams.
I tend to get bored during trainings, because most of them are too slow-paced for my learning rhythm. So I check e-mails and even do a bit of work while the trainer whizzes in the background. It would seem stupid t punish me for that.
But educators' thinking patterns are so 80's...

Use Tablets instead (1)

Wizard052 (1003511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708532)

Maybe tablets such as the ipad would be some kind of compromise, for students who genuinely need their machines for note taking but dont want to distract the people behind them. But then again, your average college student may not have a tablet...

Laptops vs Cell phones (1)

dakohli (1442929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708540)

I am the Instructor Supervisor for a Course in the Air Force. All of our students are issued with laptops. The class size is small (up to 12 Students). They range in age from 18-40ish.

At the beginning of each lecture, the instructor will issue a control statement detailing the acceptable behavior in the class.

Most instructors ask the students to close their laptops. Notes are generally provided on the topics covered.

The Laptops are not connected to an outside network, however it has been noticed that cell phones are becoming very popular, esp with the younger folks. After no small discussion, it was decided to ban the phones, and leave the laptop issue up to each instructor.

I think at the end of the day, it is a respect issue, and that is student to student and student to instructor. With small classes it is easy to see who is getting distracted. I remember when I was in first year lectures with a class size of 200+. It was impossible for the professor to monitor everybody. Those that were interested in learning migrated to the front of the room. Those of us who weren't, stuck near the back where we could act as we wanted without disturbing those who were there to learn.

I agree that communications is the key, I don't think a school has to step in unless the students can't police themselves.

Rage-quit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708542)

When I was in college I wasn't distracted the least by others use of laptops. What on the other hand was kind of distracting was all damn n00bs that was teamflashing me all the time.

Use tablets instead... (1)

Wizard052 (1003511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708544)

Tablet PCs such as the ipad could be compromise...for genuine students who want to use their machines for note-taking, but don't want to distract anyone behind them. But then again, your average college student wouldn't be having a tablet...

Cluster them by laptop usage. (1)

matmota (238500) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708548)

What some professors do now at the University of Saarland [] (Germany) is to define three zones.
If you want to use the laptop for taking notes in class, you sit in the first rows, and if you want to do whatever else you sit in the last rows way back.
In the middle there is a DMZ without laptops at all.

The idea is to avoid getting distracted by flashy graphic stuff happening before you when you want to pay attention.

It's no more distracting than ... (1)

shicaca (899698) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708552)

A person blowing their nose, texting, chewing gum with ones mouth open, ect. Anybody can be distracted by something if they put their minds to it. I, personally, found having a computer with me at school a problem on a few different sides of the spectrum. Laptops 3 years ago definitely weren't of the size to take to class. Though much smaller than ever before at that point, they were still a bit heavy and clunky to take around. Technology still haven't come up with a way of easily and quickly making notations (or quickly enough for keeping pace with a speaking professor) on Powerpoint slides - especially if the PPT's are handed to you (some classes *do* pay for the paper to do so). Finally, AIM / Facebook in times of bored desperation were much bigger distractions than other peoples computers.

Suggestions for the student: 1- Ask the screensaver be disabled and instead put its screen to blank (turn it off) instead. It'll save more battery that way, anyways. 2- Sit further up in class. It might take a bit of practice if the person bringing their laptop gets there early and/or is in the front row, but typically they're not in the exact front, so maybe that's where you need to be. If it's that much of a distraction, you'll be happy you did it.

The usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708558)

The students who get on my nerves, fail the class, it's a simple as that.

For some classes like Engineering/Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708560)

I can understand laptop use. But I really dislike it for other classes because it distracts OTHER students who are paying for the priviledge of attending the lecture to learn something.

A total ban is unnecessary (1)

Aldanga (1757414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708562)

Based on my own experience, I don't think laptops in classrooms should be banned. I've had several profs state that laptops are only for class-related use and will be allowed only as long as that is all they're used for. That tends to work pretty well as students who use laptops for quick note-taking and don't want to lose that luxury, like myself, are eager to let the professor know which students are problematic and the issues with those particular students can then be addressed.

Granted, I do attend a small private school where the largest GenEd classes are usually no more than 50 students, so I don't know what problems are faced by profs with large class sizes. Still, I think banning laptops hurts a lot of good students more than it helps the lazy ones.

I owuld ask the students kindly (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708564)


a) Not use the Internet while in class

b) Not play any animation while in class

c) Select Notebook Models with a decent low noise of the keyboard

d) Strictly use their notebooks for note taking, and possibly looking up old lectures.

People doing something else would be welcome to watch the powerpoint presentation whenever and wherever they want.

I think no (1)

slayer_ix (927649) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708566)

As someone who has experienced this first hand I say let people use laptops. I've used them for learning as well as getting distracted. Sometimes lectures are boring, if not using your laptop you'll be texting. If you get rid of the phones people read books/magazines. People should just police themselves on this type of thing.

Laptops in class (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708570)

Being allowed to use a laptop in class helped me get the first post.

the answer is yes (1)

dingo8baby (1262090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708574)

of course they should, and mobile phones as well.

Problem Is How They Use It (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708580)

It's difficult for me to fairly comment on this subject, because like a lot of others, I am at least a generation of students behind when laptops in classrooms even became an actual thing. When I was last in school, our computer labs were still nothing more than a few dozen C64s used for nothing more than teaching typing and a handful of Apple IIs for playing Oregon Trail and that one game where a dolphin becomes the president (this was all in the 90s).

However, my concern is that I suspect students don't use these tools for meaningful purposes. It's like how kids use computers today, versus how I used them when I was growing up. I was grateful to get my hands on my own computers through my own means and when I did, I was given to pursue a great deal of self-education. I learned how to setup various BBS systems. How to customize them. How to setup FIDONET and door games and how to deal with phone companies and telecommunication trunks. I learned how to code and how things worked, so that I could wield more power and be capable of *creation* rather than merely *consumption*.

The way I saw people my siblings' age and younger over the past decade approach computers has largely been as a utility for playing flash games and chatting. It never occurs to them to learn about how things work or even care. It never occurs to them to create things (and writing inane blog posts or chatting with people or hooking up is not "creating" anything). They approach computers the way people approached television.

So, that given, I suspect that while a few geeks will make serious use of their laptops in classrooms, the majority will just find it as a facilitator of chatting with their friends and watching youtube clips with the sound off.

Of course, if these are college students, I don't give a fuck. You're an adult and you're the one paying for your education and its your future and career on the table. I couldn't care less how serious you do or don't take things or if you dick around during class.

Redirect ongoing lecture guests to... (1)

Andrioid (1755390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708584)

If it was me, I would put up a special access point in all lecture halls. Then I would make it so that when (according to the schedules) a lecture is ongoing - any clients from these access points would get redirected to a landing page: "You are browsing during a lecture, we would appreciate if you would wait until after the lecture.". Then optionally offer grace periods or ignore options.

of course they should (1)

dingo8baby (1262090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708586)

they add no value to the learning experience

Stop whining... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708592)

Am I right in thiking that students have to pay to attend college? If so then they can do what they like.
And if a laptop screensaver the row ahead is too distracting then i think someone needs some kind of therapy. Sheesh.

Rage-quit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708594)

When I was in college I wasn't distracted the least because of others use of laptops. What on the other hand was kind of distracting was all the n00bs teamflashing me all the time.

It can be irritating, but shouldn't be banned (1)

chrispugh (1301243) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708596)

I fully sympathise with this viewpoint. Occasionally there will be someone playing a game on their laptop during lectures on my course (physics), and it is incredibly distracting. It's a challenge to concentrate on the quantum mechanics lecture being delivered when you have someone playing GTA in your eyeline, and these people should be shot. However, the number of people using their laptops for this is statistically insignificant when compared to the number of people using their computers for note taking or supplementary reading. Most of the computers I see turned on in lectures are either on a word processor or the relevant Wikipedia page. The lecturers know this, and will occasionally even ask for clarification of some insignificant yet interesting point (the date of an experiment or something along those lines). I see laptops, generally, as a positive addition to lecture halls.

This is... (1)

KazW (1136177) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708600)

Complete and total bullshit, I'm currently a CS student, and I use my netbook to take notes and work on in-class assignments. I simply would not be able to perform at the academic level I do without it. There are always going to be distractions in a classroom setting, no matter what you do, banning laptops is not the solution. It would even be illegal for my college to ban me from the use of my computer; my penmanship skills are horrible and I write at a painstakingly slow speed, and for this reason I have been labelled as having a learning disability. I can however, type almost as fast as I can speak, and am permitted to use a computer for any situation where writing is required. I don't always make use of this special allowance, but it gives me comfort knowing that the option is there.

When the facebook addicts see a failing grade or get kicked out because their GPA is too low, they'll get the message. Forbidding student use of laptops would be a crime against academia.

first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708602)

i am champion

When I was a young lad... (1)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708610)

People used to goof off by doodling on a piece of paper, or play poker in the back of the lecture hall. Or fall asleep.

Laptops can be simply another way to do something other than pay attention to the prof, or people can use them to take notes. Why not just let young adults decide for themselves?

Better than talking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708616)

I prefer that they chat or herd their farm animals on Facebook if that keeps them from chatting in real life. Of course I'd even more like it if they just stayed at home. What's the point of sitting in class when you're not paying attention anyway? Personally I use my laptop to have a copy of the slides open so that I can look at definitions again if I need them.

Student's Fault (1)

excelblue (739986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708618)

So, the article is addressing the possibility of a certain laptop distracting other students, but I do have to say: if you are a student and are distracted by the mere presence of a laptop, you have much more serious issues! Perhaps you should be checked out for ADD?

Using the same argument, clocks, windows, and other students taking notes on pen and paper may also be distracting.

I personally don't see this as a valid argument to ban laptops in a college classroom.

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