Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No Laptops in Class?

In honor of TechFest going on over in Reeve this afternoon, lets talk the most ubiquitous technology in the classrooms:  student laptops.

I spotted this story a few days ago:  Students do worse with laptops.  A prof. at UC Boulder did her own study and found that students with laptops did 11% worse than those without.

While observing a classroom not long ago, I noticed that the students who had laptops were by and large doing something unrelated to the material being presented.  They were surfing the web, reading e-mail, and worst of all, playing some sort of game.  The students themselves were not engaged, while those surrounding them were clearly distracted by all the activity.   A few of the laptop owners would stop what they were doing to type in the bullet points from the powerpoint, but only for a brief moment.

It was pretty pathetic and a demonstration, for me at least, that computers don't really help.  The little data in the story above also suggest that the students are not benefiting.

There are many ways to check out when in class, from dozing to doodling, but the massive distraction generated by laptop users increased the problem by sucking in those nearby.

A quick google also gives me this:  The Volokh Conspiracy surveyed students after banning laptops in his class.  They surveyed students in a first year law class and found that the ban was generally appreciated, in a context where there would be dozens, if not a majority of computer users.

I think I am going to add some sort of restriction to my classroom policies.  I wonder if it should be a complete ban or rules about use and abuse. 

1 comment:

c. h. ramon said...

Perhaps we could habe "laptop" and "non-laptop" sections of the classroom? Let all the annoying peckers sit together and the more engaged scribblers sit together?