Caught in the web: The case against laptops in the classroom

So what are you doing during class? Surfing Facebook or listening to the professor and engaging in the class? Chances are that if you are using a laptop during class, you are probably surfing the Internet instead of being engaged in the class. Some professors allow laptops in class, some ban them. There are many reasons to ban laptops in classrooms.

Laptops detract from the learning experience. A study by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts showed that students who used laptops during class remembered less lecture content than those who did not use laptops.

The analysis also revealed that laptops interfered with the students’ ability to pay attention to and understand the lecture material during class, which therefore resulted in lower test scores.

Students using the laptop for non-class purposes are tuning out what is happening in class. They are focused on what is happening on the computer screen and are sucked in by it. Then the people around them might be sucked into doing it on their own computers or could look over on other people’s screens and get distracted that way as well. If everyone was distracted in some way by the presence of the laptop in the classroom, then no one would be engaged in the class, learning new ideas.

Some students say that they want a laptop in the classroom because they have an easier time taking notes.

A study by LectureTools, a learning technology company, showed through its research that students are capable of productive multitasking, that the right kind of technology can engage students and  cause them to thrive. I do favor technologies that can help students be more productive, but the kind of technology that was used in the LectureTools study isn’t available to everyone at the moment. Because of that, I feel that it is still better to leave the laptop behind. Even if you say you can multitask by taking notes, do personal stuff on the computer, and listen attentively to the professor, there is a limit to multitasking. You can’t multitask and be good at everything. Something is sacrificed, and that might just be losing the knowledge you could be gaining by listening to the professor.

Personally, half of my professors allow laptops and half don’t. In the classes that do allow laptops, I often do find myself surfing on the Internet and not paying any attention at all in class.

Even if I am using the laptop for class purposes and taking notes, I find myself tuning out what is going on in class because as I am taking notes; I get distracted by all the other things that I want to do on my computer, such as checking email or formatting my notes correctly.

I feel a disconnect from my classes and I find the class less engaged in learning and exchanging new ideas because a majority of my peers in class are also on their laptops and don’t contribute to the conversation.

Laptops should be banned because they don’t contribute to the learning environment, and we need to be learning and sharing new ideas through discussions in class rather than having students who are disconnected. Class time is a time for learning, not for conducting one’s personal affairs. Besides, since we are paying for our own education, shouldn’t learning, instead of the computer, be the priority in the classroom?