Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.

from NYTs

Step into any college lecture hall and you are likely to find a sea of students typing away at open, glowing laptops as the professor speaks. But you won’t see that when I’m teaching.

Though I make a few exceptions, I generally ban electronics, including laptops, in my classes and research seminars.

That may seem extreme. After all, with laptops, students can, in some ways, absorb more from lectures than they can with just paper and pen. They can download course readings, look up unfamiliar concepts on the fly and create an accurate, well-organized record of the lecture material. All of that is good.

But a growing body of evidence shows that over all, college students learn less when they use computers or tablets during lectures. They also tend to earn worse grades. The research is unequivocal: Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them. It’s not much of a leap to expect that electronics also undermine learning in high school classrooms or that they hurt productivity in meetings in all kinds of workplaces.

Measuring the effect of laptops on learning is tough. One problem is that students don’t all use laptops the same way. It might be that dedicated students, who tend to earn high grades, use them more frequently in classes. It might be that the most distracted students turn to their laptops whenever they are bored. In any case, a simple comparison of performance may confuse the effect of laptops with the characteristics of the students who choose to use them. Researchers call this “selection bias.”

More here.

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76 Responses to Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.

  1. Antonio Chirichiello February 2, 2018 at 7:55 pm #

    The development of technology has been a major impact to our everyday lives. It has enabled us to perform tasks that assist, the improvement in all aspects of life. In the past few decades, the innovation of information technology has been the major focus. The birth of the computer, which occurred during the end of the twentieth century set, the theme for the new millennium. The twenty first century has revolutionized the devices, we use to obtain information and communicate with one another.

    Since the computer, the focus for inventors has been to create a variety of devices that have the identical capabilities but are travel sized. A computer is far too big and heavy for a college student to travel with. Also, a person who does not own a laptop will not have the ability to access, the internet. If they are traveling most of the time every week it will be hard for a student to stay connect to alerts and emails because, college revolves around the internet. A college student uses the internet daily for numerous course related work. A device you can transport with internet capabilities, is beneficial to students who has to submit homework online.

    A laptop is an ideal invention for any college student that: is full-time, has a part-time job, and does not live on campus. Having a busy schedule, a laptop enables a student to access school work from anywhere that has an internet connection. As a full-time college student that is a commuter, owning a laptop is really beneficial to me because, I do my course studies mostly on campus. I use my laptop for everything school related but, I do not take notes on it in class. Typing class notes is a more effective and efficient method than writing them on paper but, I feel that a computer will distract me from learning.

    During a lecture, I look around and notice students on their laptops watching movies, playing games, or messaging their friends. The article states the strongest argument against allowing laptops in class is that, it is harmful and districting to other student near the laptop. I have experienced this situation countless times in class and, I end up becoming distracted from learning. A student in class that is using a laptop for other than notes, he/she is usually watching a movie. It is frustrating for me when I sit next to a student who is on their laptop because, I have to pay for my own college tuition and they probably do not have to.

    In conclusion, I feel that laptops are necessity for college students because, they are able to surf the web from anywhere other than their home. I do not believe that students should use their laptops in class because, they are harming the surrounding students by playing games or watching movies. It is distracting to other surrounding students who are trying to receive an education. It is also disrespectful to the professor. I have to pay for my tuition. So, it is upsetting for me to sit next to a student who is on their laptop because, I am a person who gets easily distracted during a lecture. The laptop is a great invention for a hand help computer but, it a real problem in lectures and it continues to grow.

  2. Don R February 2, 2018 at 8:03 pm #

    There are very few who lecture on personal responsibility. In an age where rights are stressed, and responsibilities are shunned, it is no wonder then when college students of a particular generation (millennials) are given technology that gives them unlimited access to distraction after distraction their grades drop like a rock. Personally I find the increasing reliance on technology by myself and fellow classmates disturbing. But we live in a world of ever-increasing technological breakthroughs where the old style of the quill pen, ink, and parchment are things of the past. I am not suggesting that we merely lump pen and paper along with its cousin, the quill pen, instead use microphones and other available technology to record lectures and go back on one’s free (all-be limited) time and transcribe notes using the audio from the lecture using pen and paper. We live in a world where podcasts have literally replaced talk radio and Youtube professors(Jordan Peterson), and fight commentators (Joe Rogan) become famous through the internet medium. The instant access to information is something that students need to utilize as a razor-sharp tool to bet their opponents with rather than a handicap. Personal responsibility is the overwhelming factor that is lacking in today’s youth, and coupled with distractions we (The “young” people) are doomed to fail in spectacular fashion. That is the biggest factor that we need to consider when replacing “traditional” forms of academic tradition. I am not demanding we burn our laptops in Spanish inquisition fashion. I am just hesitant to fully embrace technology blindly, without second thought. College students, should, try and understand the extent and power of a laptop before fully embracing every it without realizing it’s complexity at a fundamental level. We should adopt the old forms of note taking when we have the luxury. I would just be hesitant to band them outright in the classroom, in my personal opinion. Anything that is illegal becomes romanticized due to its forbidden nature. If I were to discourage their use I would first convince them of the defects and vices of the technology. This article alone is making me rethink noting in general. I do not want to fail and it would be foolish of me not to recognize that my ego would say I am strong enough in the face of unlimited choices. I am not that strong.

  3. NF February 2, 2018 at 8:08 pm #

    I believe that laptop usage in both high school and college classes are a huge distraction to everyone in the class. Student’s using their laptops are usually not taking notes. Most times, they are either watching Netflix, viewing game stats, or shopping online. They’re rarely seen taking notes. If they are taking notes, a browser is opened in another window for entertainment purposes.
    Students who aren’t using their laptops are negatively affected as well. The loud, excessive typing of laptop users tends to be the main distraction. Most students are unable to hear professors clearly due to their typing. Also, students tend to get slightly sidetracked by the vivid images portrayed on their fellow classmates’ screens. For a second, their attention is no longer directed towards their professor. Regaining focus might be slightly difficult after.
    Laptop usage can negatively affect professors as well. Usually, when giving lectures, professors are able to distinguish whether students fully grasp the material by their students’ facial expressions. However, they unable to do that when students are on their devices. Most professors likely assume they do understand due to the lack of questions. Unfortunately, they’re usually mistaken after seeing students’, who frequently use their laptop, poor performances on tests.
    I personally disagree with laptop usage in classrooms. However, I feel as if college students are obliged to do whatever they feel appropriate. They are legal adults. If they want to bring their laptops to class, I believe they should. I believe college professors should stress the detriments of laptop usage in lecture halls and classrooms, but not completely ban them.

  4. Daniel Schreier February 2, 2018 at 8:15 pm #

    The use of laptops by college students, both in classes and in lectures in an interesting topic, since this habit is growing a lot in all college campuses around the nation and the world. The use of these devices in class brings a new dynamic to it, for example, students can use many different software’s which have various tools that can record the lecture, insert visual and audio media, and provide a more dynamic way to take notes of the content which is being presented. However, in my view, as a regular user of these methods for learning, nothing replaces the good and old pen and paper, since they are the only way someone can fully express themselves in the way they want to do it. For example, Microsoft OneNote allows people to take notes in many ways, typing, drawing, writing with their virtual pens on the touchscreen monitor, by recording audio and video, or by taking pictures, but it does so in a very tight manner, meaning the user doesn’t have full control of the way he wants its notes to be taken or organized, nevertheless, when using pen and paper, the student has control of how he wants its topics to be organized, and the way notes are takes. Furthermore, when taking notes on a virtual platform, sometimes things can get a bit confused, since one has to pay attention simultaneously to what is being presented, to the computer screen, and to the keyboard, which can cause some confusion in the brain, especially with people which aren’t good at multitasking, and making them miss important information, whereas using the “old way” this problem is largely reduced. Moreover, having a computer in front of someone is a huge way of distracting them from class, since one has access to all information in the world just some clicks away, and we have to be honest… sometimes, a lot of that can be way more interesting than some classes or lectures. Thus, I can see the authors view, and even agree with it, still, banning computers from classroom is not going to end this situation, especially because everyone can have the same amount of information, just reaching to their pockets.

  5. Connor Wiedeman February 2, 2018 at 8:53 pm #

    There’s no debate that laptops have made our everyday lives incredibly easier. They bring the uses of mail, phones, calculators, paper and pen, and more all into one device. However, all of the possibilities of the laptop is somewhat of a double edged sword. When trying to accomplish work with the entire internet staring back at you, it can be difficult to stay on task and work efficiently. This also applies to using laptops in the classroom. In my personal experience, I have seen students who both utilize the laptop to its potential, and also students who fully succumb to the temptations of online shopping, videos, and games. For the students who stay on track, the laptops greatly improve note taking, researching, etc., but for the students who become distracted easily, laptops can be seriously detrimental to their grades.
    Another interesting thing I have noticed, is that students who are given laptops in high school are much more prone to straying off task, and aren’t able to handle having a laptop in front of them. This could be because high school students are a little bit younger and less responsible. In college, students are much more focused and are able to use the laptops to better their learning. This is because college students are older, and presumably more mature than high school students. Another big reason for this is that college students are paying tens of thousands of dollars, so are much more inclined to take advantage of their time in class and spend it taking notes and paying attention.
    Considering both the pros and cons of the laptop in class, I think laptops should be used by students because one of two things are going to happen. The student either takes advantage of the device and uses it to improve learning, or the student uses it as a distraction and a way to kill time in class. The silver lining in this is that the distracted student might learn from his misuse of the laptops by experiencing a slip in grades, and teaching some responsibility.
    Using laptops in the classroom is a situation where you get in what you put out. If you use it for its purpose, it’s going to help you with work. If you use it to keep yourself entertained, you aren’t going to get a lot out of it. The students who I see staying on task in the classroom with their laptops, are almost always the students who are constantly participating in class and knowing the answer to the questions asked, whereas the students off task don’t participate at all. With all of this considered, I believe students should be allowed to use laptops in the classroom, and given the decision and responsibility of using it for its intended purpose. If people aren’t faced with responsibility early on in their life, then they will struggle later on when faced with an actual job. High school and college students are young adults/ adults and in my opinion should be able to handle using a laptop in the classroom.

  6. Ryan Blume February 2, 2018 at 10:35 pm #

    Laptops have their pros and cons, but based on my experience, there are more cons than pros. I have tried taking notes on my laptop, but I prefer taking notes with pen and paper because I’m able to process information better. The main reason for this is because I write faster than I type. Even though I never tried to ignore the professor, I’ve seen many other students take advantage of being able to use their laptop to not focus on the lecture, but to go on social media sites. A lot of professors I had always had a rule that students can use their laptops for academic purposes only. While the professor is teaching, they assume that people are using their laptops to take notes. The problem is that most students are doing things not related to academics. Not only have I seen students go on social media, but they watch TV shows and even movies. According to “Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or Meeting” not only does the student on the laptop retain less of the lecture, but it also affects other students’ learning as well because other students will be distracted by what is on the laptop. This is called “negatively externality.” I would agree students can be affected by this, especially because this has happened to me.
    Despite all the bad, there is good from using laptops in class. If a professor may have to demonstrate how to use a computer program and they may want the students to use it in class. It would also make it easier to do assigned in class research for projects. This would allow for class time to be more efficient. The article brought up that it would be easier for students with disabilities to use laptops and based on their condition, I would allow that. Overall, I agree with the author for banning laptops during lectures and limiting its use during class.

  7. Christopher Salimbene February 2, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

    The use of laptops during a lecture or meeting is helpful for people however, it can cause distraction to others in the same room. Some people prefer to have their laptops during a lecture with them because they may be excellent at typing notes rather than having poor note taking by hand writing the notes. I believe that handwriting the notes during a lecture is preferably more educated than those that type up their notes because people who prefer to take notes from their laptop could not only type up notes discussed from a lecture, but can also be distracted with researching other topics that don’t fit with the lecture while those that handwrite their notes seem more educated, and understand the lecture superior. Also, the professor could be talking about important information that isn’t mentioned on the power points and those that use their laptops during lectures could miss out on this information by playing games or texting their friends. People in this generation should realize that others in a different generation didn’t have a variety of technology that we have today and consider hand writing to stay focused on the lesson. There are a few points why students prefer to use laptops during class rather than hand write notes but they have to realize that if their laptops keep them distracted, then it would cause them to receive a poor grade in the class and unprepared come exam time. It seems that more college students would rather use laptops during lectures than high school students because high school teachers attempt to prepare high school students to hand write notes, and would keep them more focuses in their college courses rather than in college, majority of students are young adults and are capable of being responsible for note taking.
    Generally speaking, I believe that laptops aren’t an excellent option to have during lectures because students would either be distracted looking up other topics and won’t realize what’s being discussed in class. Students who tend to use laptops for note taking during class end up not understanding the lecture and have a better chance of receiving poor performance in the class than those who hand write their notes have a greater possibility of succeeding in the class. Also, people who prefer laptops don’t even have to be listening to the professor at all, they can be on either social media, texting their friends, or working on other assignments for a different class. Sometimes, the professor could just lecture without a power point and laptop note takers would be affected by this if they don’t understand the key points of the lecture or if they struggle with homework due to the fact they weren’t paying attention in class. However, hand writer note takers know how to summarize the lesson in their own words rather than laptop note takers who wouldn’t understand how to put the notes of the lecture in their own words. Overall, hand writing note taking can be difficult to some people but it would definitely help them understand the lecture better than the laptop note takers who could be distracted watching videos or on social media and struggle with the lesson for other assignments.

  8. Daniel Colasanto February 3, 2018 at 7:44 pm #

    According to this article students who type their notes on a laptop are more likely to do worse on exams than students who hand write their notes. A professor decided after what he believed to be substantial evidence from various studies, to no longer allow the use of laptops or any electronics in his classes. I personally feel that using a laptop and writing notes by hand are very similar and that these studies not hold much weight in terms of legitimacy. I know many students including myself who type their notes solely because it is easier and much more organized. Instead of writing your notes by hand then trying to understanding your hand writing when you refer to it. Typing your notes on a laptop makes your notes much easier to write, read, put into organized folders, allow the use of helpful applications to have the notes read to you by the computer and many other additional features.
    As well as these two methods of taking notes very similar in my opinion I do not believe that a professor should be allowed to demand his or her students to take notes only by hand. Of course if you are using your laptop for entertainment and watching videos instead of actually paying attention to the lecture, most students doing that will not be able to do well first because they were not paying attention and second because they’re note taking would significantly suffer. All in all, I can see if students are not using their laptops for academic purposes relevant to the course they are currently in why laptops could be a significant disadvantage for unfocused students however I believe that focused students use their laptops efficiently and effectively and that there is not much of a difference between notes on laptops and notes written by hand.

  9. Chris Lineman February 7, 2018 at 5:48 pm #

    The use of laptops in class has its pros and cons. There is no arguing that. A lot of times students are easily distracted during a lecture. Studies show that most people don’t have a long attention span and the internet has caused that attention span to decrease even more. The article states that a lot of student’s grades are worse with the use of laptops in class. I do believe this. I do a lot better when I am forced to hand write the notes during class. I feel like when you write something down you remember it better than typing it. However, typed notes are much more organized looking and that can help make it easier to study later.
    The amount of times I have seen other students watching videos, browsing social media, and playing computer games is just absurd. I can’t say I have not done this myself in some very boring and easy classes, but it is sad to see. We’re paying a lot of money to browse the web while we should be learning. Plus, many people use the computer screen to just hide their phones behind if they’re not just IMessaging on their computer. Banning laptops in class eliminates a lot of distraction.
    I have seen people use laptops in a very educational way too. Some people take great notes and have them organized so nicely. Also, students can quickly look up an answer to a question the teacher asks. Sometimes you forget a term’s meaning too and don’t want to interrupt the professor, so you just Google it real fast and comprehend the lecture.
    Personally, I know I am better off without a laptop and prefer to learn the old-school way with pen and paper during class. I do understand that some students do learn better looking at a computer. I just do not have the attention span with such easy access to distraction. I respect the professors wishes whenever they ban phones and laptops in the class. Definitely can see why some students get annoyed by it too. There’s a lot of benefits to having a laptop in class if you are being responsible. I believe it does have a positive impact on my grade though by not using a laptop during class.

  10. Thomas Johnson February 7, 2018 at 6:50 pm #

    The use of laptops in classes rooms has vastly increased in the last couple of years. More and more students are now using laptops as a tool to take notes in their classes. But is this tool helping them or just overall making them a distracted student. In the article it makes the argument that laptops are hurting students and their learning in a classroom and I could not agree more. While taking notes on a laptop there can be a lot of different distractions that could keep you from learning. For example many laptops now have the capability to text from them which can lead to being even more distracted. Sometimes you might be just taking notes and happen to see something pop up on your screen that interest you and before you know it you have completely lost track of where the course is headed. Overall personally I feel that banning laptops in a classroom is a great idea but the professor of the class needs to also understand how to make the class so therefore there are no laptops needed. For example a professor should make the class a lot more interactive based and discussion based. By having these types of classes it will get students heads of their computers and more focused on what is going on in the class. By having discussion it will also help increase you learning because you are interacting with the content of the class rather than just taking notes. Overall I feel that by having a classroom ban on laptops it will greatly help increase the value of students learning in a classroom.

  11. Coby Dunn February 7, 2018 at 7:21 pm #

    Here at Seton Hall, laptops are a part of our everyday experience. Since they were given to us at the beginning of our freshman year, we have used them as tools to complete homework, study, research, and a plethora of other things. There is not a single class that I go into that does not exhibit at least one student using a laptop. However, I also see students using their laptops for other tasks during class. Most predominately, students use laptops to play games, use social media, and other non lecture based activities. I could argue that laptops are given to us to take notes, learn, and help us in our class. But, this just is not the case that I have witnessed in my personal experience. I tend to agree with the New York Times article that less technology equals a greater retention of the information. I have tried to use my laptop during lectures, and I always find myself wondering what the lesson was actually about. Another problem with the laptops in class is how it effects other students. The constant email notifications, or occasional movie I see playing during a class is more than enough to ruin my train of thought, and distract me from a lecture. The article lists all sorts of studies done on technology in the classroom, but I could have come to the same conclusions based on my own personnel experience. Personnally, I think Laptops belong outside of the classroom. The use of blackboard, the internet, and any Microsoft office app is a great study tool on your own. Lectures are meant to be listened to, and I do not think that you can do that effectively while typing away on a laptop.

  12. Samuel Kozlov February 8, 2018 at 4:05 pm #

    Ever since I can remember, I and many other students have been using laptops at school. Starting in middle school, I’ve been using my laptop in order to research critical information that was necessary to excel in school. Although I usually have not utilized the laptop I received to distract myself from class, I did notice that many other students were not using the laptops to enhance their learning, but rather to hinder it. That begs the question, are laptops really a good investment for schools in order to help students learn or do laptops take away from a healthy working environment? Based on my personal experience, the answer is clear. Much of the time, students with laptops are simply not paying attention to the task at hand, therefore effectively wasting their class time and the professor’s time as well. In the article, the quote, “In a series of experiments at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, students were randomly assigned either laptops or pen and paper for note-taking at a lecture. Those who had used laptops had substantially worse understanding of the lecture, as measured by a standardized test, than those who did not” (Dynarski 7). This quote essentially summarized what I stated before, which was that schools really do make a big mistake by allowing laptops in class. Clearly, when students are not interested in the professor’s lecture they will utilize their laptops as a means to escape from the class they are in. This will of course drastically reduce the amount of information they retain, thus reducing their ability to get a good grade in their classes. Overall, laptops can be a useful tool for classes, but the way that many students use them is ineffective to say the least. Even if I am focusing on the lecture at hand, even seeing someone else on their laptops goofing off can and does distract me from what the professor is saying. Hopefully, over time schools will begin to wake up and understand the adverse effects of having laptops in their classes.

  13. Kirsten MacArthur February 8, 2018 at 9:19 pm #

    Laptop use in meetings and classrooms has become a norm in this day and age. The development of technology such as laptops and smart phones over the years has altered the way that people learn, focus, and develop in a variety of ways. Many people have quite opposing views regarding the technology we use and how it is impacting our lives. Some believe that it is hindering our ability to function as we used to, such as lessening our communication and relationship building skills. Others may be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum and believe that technology has completely improved our lives by providing us with simpler ways to complete tasks. Most of us have become reliant on our technology, and perhaps feel that we cannot live without it. Because of this, students and employees feel that using it in the classroom or meeting is necessary, but it may actually be holding them back.
    I feel that each individual learns in their own way, so it is possible for some people to process information better if they are typing it during a lecture, rather than writing it with a pen and paper. In order for this method of note taking to be effective, though, they cannot be distracted by the thousands of other features of their laptop. For someone who becomes distracted quite easily, note taking on a laptop is definitely not the best method if the person is actually trying to absorb the information being taught in real time. In approximately five or ten minutes, the distracted student will most likely open a new tab to possibly Google search something, which can spiral into so much more. Twenty minutes later, they may be online shopping, playing games, or even doing work for another class. In this case, there is no possible way that the student is learning more than the student next to them that is using just a paper and pen to take their notes.
    It is very interesting to think about the fact that the people surrounding the laptop or smartphone user in a classroom or meeting are actually affected negatively by it, too. I can definitely recall multiple times when I was being distracted by something another student was doing on their laptop that was unrelated to class material. I have witnessed students watching sports games and YouTube videos, playing games, and using social media in class, which took my attention off of the professor and ultimately ended up on their screen. I am definitely also guilty of utilizing my laptop incorrectly in classes before, but I feel that I am typically using it to get other coursework out of the way. Although I am using it for school, I am still not using it properly, which is why I strongly believe that in the grand scheme of things, technology usage in class is almost always a distraction to the user and the surrounding students.
    The article mentions that using a pen and paper to take notes in class and then typing the notes at a later date helps with memorization. I definitely agree with this statement, because repetition is one of the best ways to memorize information. In any case, the more you hear or write something, the more you start to remember it each time. This is just another reason why old fashioned note taking prevails. In this professor’s case, I agree with her policy of no laptops in class. If I were in her position, I might leave it up to the student because they are paying for the class, but the fact that it distracts other students too is a very valid reason to ban them. Since it is her classroom, it is her choice as to what she allows and doesn’t allow to occur, but she has a strong argument as to why laptops are not beneficial to use while in lecture.

  14. Mary Margaret Miller February 9, 2018 at 1:27 pm #

    The argument depicts the negative affects laptops have in the class setting and how it has impacted the grades of students. As technology advances, we have access to anything and everything at our fingertips. If you need an answer to a question, you can just Google your answer and have it in seconds. There’s no need to go to the library anymore to pick out a book to conduct research with. However, in a classroom setting, it has been proven that laptop usage during a lecture does solely harm and no good to students.
    As we are able to have access to many things on our devices, it is incredibly easy to get distracted from what the instructor is actually saying during the lecture. It has been shown that students who take notes on laptops have a harder time retaining the information later on, while students who still stick to the pen and paper route tend to do significantly better in the course. As a student, I have witnessed the abuse of technology within the classroom and I find that I also become distracted and spend more time staring at the light illuminating from other student’s screens than listening and writing down notes from the lecture the professor is giving. More and more professors have been jumping on the bandwagon and have banned the use of laptops in the classroom. Not only has this given students a better learning environment, it has also helped all students excel and retain information better from the lectures.
    Studies and researchers have proven that LED light that illuminates from computer screens are slowly damaging our eyes over time. As we enter the digital age, it has provided us with many benefits for the sake of convenience, however we do not think about the lasting affects it has on our health. Although children are more at risk for bad vision being that their eyes are more susceptible to blue light, we as adults should know when to unplug from our devices, and when to be less dependent on them. Although Lasik surgery can repair retinal damage from the blue light, the effects of the procedure last between eight and ten years. Thus the corrections that were made to your eyes would be erased.
    As the use of technology in the classroom poses a threat to the way students learn, and the risk of our eyesight, the usage of laptops should be heavily limited, if not banned from the classroom. College students pay thousands of dollars to take courses, therefore they should not be spending their time in that course watching a movie or playing a game on their laptop during lecture. Not only does it inhibit their learning abilities, but also impacts the ways other students around them learn. By limiting the usage of electronic devices in the classroom, all students will benefit and learn more and see what their course(s) have to offer.
    Martinsons, C. “Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) for Domestic Lighting: Any Risks for the Eye?”Pubmed,
    30 July 2011,

  15. Koyinsola Okulaja February 9, 2018 at 10:15 pm #

    Technology evolving has had a lot of effects on us, one of the effects it has had on school is not only in phones but more importantly on laptops. Laptops are integral part of a student’s success in college today. Any college classroom you walk into today you will see a huge percentage of kids on their laptops. This is a very tense subject because many of the kids who are on their laptop are not actually writing notes or paying attention in class. I’m able to see this in some of my classes this semester and sometimes I am even the one watching videos or doing other distracting things in the middle of a boring lecture. This has lead to a couple professors banning the use of laptops. This has proved to be a bad thing especially for the kids who actually use their laptops to follow PowerPoints and write notes. One of the pros of laptops is that it is easier than handwriting but many argue that you’ll better understand the information if you were handwriting rather than typing. This also allows you to keep up with the lecture.
    The Laptop has many capabilities, there are a multitude of things that people could be doing rather than paying attention in class. They could be on social media sites; they could be playing games or they could be watching videos. It also causes a distraction for the people sitting around the person on their laptop. I have found that some of my professors are similar to that of the writer of the article Susan Dynarski in that they have banned the use of all technology from their classes, this seems to be a more effective method for us student as it forces us students to pay attention and we are able to learn more. I was also recently talking to a friend who said his professor collects all the phones/laptops of all the students as they enter the class, in order to make sure they are not distracted at any point during the class. One of the negatives of banning laptops in my opinion has been the e-books. Many of us students have love to have the e-books on our laptops because either we can find it online for free or we can get it much cheaper online. One thing we can all agree on is that students with disabilities should be able to use laptops in class whenever they want.
    And as the times continue to pass, I believe the best option for the use of laptops in class is that it should be up to the discretion of the student especially in college. As the students are in college, they should be motivated to learn all the information because of the hefty prices we are paying for tuition.

  16. Senada Ramic February 9, 2018 at 10:33 pm #

    In today’s world, technology is consuming our lives. The first thing we do when we wake up is look at our phones and check social media and mail. So, why wouldn’t we use our laptops in class to keep up during the day? I agree entirely with the article and believe that when we are in a lecture we should not have any technology around us. Laptops and phones should not be allowed. However, students who are disabled do have a right to use it and I agree with that. The article states students who use computers during lectures tend to receive worse grades than those who used paper and pen. All the studies talked about in the article are proving that computers hurt the student, but also the students around them that don’t use it. The fact is, most of the time students are not taking notes, but rather watching Netflix, checking social media or doing other homework.

    One fact that I found extremely interesting was the term “negative externality, which occurs when one person’s consumption harms the well-being of others” (Dynarski, Susan). I really liked this because I did not even considered that my usage of a computer could affect the ones around me. This made me think about my classroom experiences. Days that I did not have my computer around me, made me look around the room to the students that did. I noticed that the sound of people typing was actually bothering me and I kept hearing it. I also noticed when the brightness of people’s laptops were changing and that my focus was not on the lecture, but on the other students with laptops. The studies that were conducted are proof that laptops are a distractions for students.

    Personally, I love to take notes in a notebook with a pencil. I have noticed that I retain the information way more than I ever do when using my laptop. One personal experience I had in school was my accounting teacher who made us read a similar article about how laptops don’t allow student to retain information. The next day in class our teacher talked about how they agreed with the article, but then made all of our homework to be completed online. I was very confused on how someone can say one thing, but make us do the opposite. When it comes to classes that are math based or require us to figure out a solution, I believe homework should be handwritten because when the exam comes we don’t use our computer, but rather do it by hand. To me, this is where there is a huge problem. Learning to do it on the computer is different than hand writing it. I find out that when I hand write my homework I fully take in the material and learn. Overall, I think that in certain classes students may benefit from using a computer, but in the long run, taking hand written notes is one hundred percent more beneficial.

    Dynarski, Susan. “Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Nov. 2017,

  17. Steven Merunka February 12, 2018 at 5:48 pm #

    I do believe there are both good and bad attribute to the use of laptops during lectures. Overall the importance of technology over the decades has been on a exponential growth pattern having more and more everyday items and actions being processed and used on a computer screen. With application such as excel and Microsoft Word coming into play to help expand the format on note taking abilities during a classroom lecture.

    In terms of the positives of a computer in a class is for a clear and coherent notes. Some may have sloppy handwriting so it is hard for them when it comes for a time to study to re-look at class lecture notes, so a computer keeps it organized and easy to read. Also if there are Power Points in the lecture and you happen to be seated far away from the projector it may be hard to follow along. You are able to pull up the slides on your computer to follow along and if the professor is too fast you can use your computer to stay on the previous slide to finishing note taking.

    However there are negatives to being able to have access and freedom to anything on the internet. You may be distracted by outside sources such as online shopping and video games while the professor is lecturing. It can hinder your ability to learn while also distracting the people around you because they is something else going on other than the lecture. However there are ways to prevent that by having locks and other ways to block websites other than the one you need to use for school while in a classroom.

  18. Greg Mattessich March 6, 2018 at 9:48 am #

    I think it is safe to assume the detrimental effects of technology in the classroom. It can certainly hinder learning, but it can also increase it substantially. Laptops are significantly compelling to surf the web with especially during a boring lecture, but as an accounting major, I have found great success with it during class exercises. With the laptop, I am able to go through accounting problems and practices as the teacher goes over them in class, and then I can simply recreate it later for homework or for studying for an exam.

    Perhaps electronics should be allowed, but only during certain times when it is deemed helpful. Using laptops to take notes definitely don’t seem valuable, because a pen in paper is just as good if not even more effective. It’s pretty easy to simply transcribe everything the professor is saying or even just write down what he/she has on the board. Writing things down reinforces lessons more psychologically, and since you are taking notes at a slower pace you are forced to come up with a simpler summary or note of whatever the professor is teaching. Making you think about the lessons in the lecture this way I believe further reinforces the lessons being taught.

    I personally went to a high school where we all were given iPads for use during school hours. I’ve seen exercises in class where it was implemented really well, like a class quiz or trivia game. However, I have also seen it act as a huge distraction to unmotivated students who would prefer to be on the internet or playing games rather than learning. Like I suggested before, perhaps an electronics ban is necessary, but should be permitted during certain class exercises or practices where it is deemed useful.

  19. Sylwia Marut March 7, 2018 at 4:26 pm #

    Laptops have almost become a necessary buy for students entering college. These devices are very useful in the sense that they are portable and help busy students stay on track with their homework and assignments. It is often faster to type an assignment rather than write it, and most teachers at universities have begun accepting electronic copies of assignments instead of handwritten ones.
    It is not only college students that use laptops in class. Many high schools and middle schools are setting up programs for children that allow them to “borrow” and “sign out” laptops, using them in class and then taking them home during the school year. Although laptops are convenient and provide students with a wealth of information in seconds on the web, they can be distracting at any age. When I was going through middle school and high school, my peers and I never used laptops in the classroom setting. We were allowed to type up assignments at home but our notes in class were always handwritten. My freshman year of college, I noticed most people brought their laptops to class. I started bringing mine every once in a while, and by second semester, I had my laptop in class every day. Although my laptop has allowed me to take notes faster and be organized with where I store my work, I have noticed a decrease in my attention span and poorer performance on test scores. I often come home from class and try to study for a test only to realize I did not retain anything. I could stare at a screen for hours trying to remember information and still attend an exam with no retention of the information I was looking at.
    I think this article from the New York Times makes a great point: laptops distract from the professor a great amount. Due to the fact that many laptops allow you to synch text messages and notifications, it is almost impossible to fully concentrate when messages on your screen keep popping up or intriguing top news stories are glaring at you. I agree with the author, laptops are great for people with learning disabilities. However, for people without learning disabilities, they can cause all sorts of adverse effects such as poorer eyesight, headaches, and shorter attention span as well as decreased concentration. I think that I would be more productive and engaged in classroom learning if my university cut off wifi during class hours for students and my laptop only served the purpose of note taking. The article recommends handwriting notes and lectures after typing them, and I intend to try this to see if my performance on exams increases.
    In the professionalism aspect, I think laptops can be distracting because the sound of typing on a keyboard can possibly get annoying and come off as rude to other people in a meeting. Laptop usage decreases eye contact as well. Because laptops have taught us to copy everything word for word due to the fast nature of typing, it is important to practice good note-taking skills in order to be successful in the workplace where often a pen and paper are used for note-taking, a much slower method. If our generation wants to be truly successful, we need to stop abusing technological devices and “going back to basics” in a sense by taking notes and really listening and engaging with professors and professionals the “old-fashioned” way.

  20. Mark Marino March 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm #

    With college campuses developing new ways of teaching such as online and hybrid courses, the use of technology in the classroom has been more now than ever. When someone walks into a university classroom, they may find some students using pen and paper, some with a tablet writing notes, and probably most typing away on their laptops. The classic pen and paper has been in classrooms for a very long time, probably the oldest way to take notes in a classroom. With the introduction of other forms of technology to take notes, students have truly benefitted in some way and have been steered the wrong way in others.
    One benefit of using a computer in the classroom is the advantage of neat and properly laid out notes. If someone is a sloppy writer or takes complex notes in a confusing way, one may benefit from using a laptop or another piece of technology to take more orderly notes. Another benefit for the use of technology is the ability for the computer or tablet to organize information better. The use of tables, auto-recognition software, and other programs can enable a user to effectively draw diagrams and form tables and graphs to implement into their notes. Another benefit that can be seen using technology in the classroom is students researching certain words or concepts that they may be confused with. I know especially in business law that if I am confused on a certain law or word I can go to Google and research the question I have. If used correctly, I believe technology is a great tool for the classroom.
    A downside for the use of technology in the classroom is the distraction factor that many researchers and even students complain about. Even from personal experience, I know the danger of the use of a laptop in the classroom. One can easily wander off onto the internet and get distracted while lecture is occurring. Another worry researchers have is that students are not recording what they type, lectures go from ears to fingers without much brain processing going on. On the other hand, using pen and paper, students seem to retain more information using this method as it requires more brain power from ears to hand. What many institutions use are firewalls to prevent students from accessing certain websites while on school property.

  21. Abeeda Razack March 9, 2018 at 8:58 pm #

    The advancements made to technology have certainly impacted individuals in today’s society, especially students. These improvements have enabled students to complete projects with great ease and efficiency using computers, smartphones and other devices instead of utilizing the traditional tools of learning. Laptops today are embedded with features which allow for new and improved methods of note-taking. Evernote and Google Drive are common note-taking software which utilize cloud computing to allow users to store their notes on the internet and be able to access them at any place or time from an internet compatible device. Because digital notes can be stored and backed up on the internet, the possibility of losing them is low, unlike paper notes. Students can also edit and share information with others as these tools integrate collaborative technology. Digital note-taking has become the preferred method of note-taking in today’s world, particularly in the classroom. Taking notes by hand can be time-consuming and exhausting on the hands. Taking notes electronically during lectures can save time that is useful for studying. In addition, digital note-taking allows students to index and organize material when studying. By typing keywords into search features, users are able to locate specific content within their notes in a jiffy. In addition, students who utilize digital note-taking have the ability to write papers with ease. Constant typing makes the writing process faster and it has been proven that students who utilize digital note-taking tools have tremendously increased their skills in writing. They are exposed to different tools such as spelling checks, grammar builders, and synonym finders, and therefore, have expanded their expertise in writing. In addition, the use of laptops in classrooms enable students to research on topics discussed in lectures. Students are provided with information that can potentially improve their level of understanding on the areas as they are being discussed. Students are therefore, able to participate in meaningful discussions with professors and other students. This activity is particularly important for building not only speaking skills, but also, builds confidence in the classroom. Moreover, students can access course content and other information provided on learning management systems such as Canvas and Blackboard, via laptops. I believe in saving the earth. I am not against printing and wasting resources. However, we have to be mindful of the fact that we are destroying trees in order to manufacture paper. Why print when we can access course related content on our laptops during lectures.
    There are many advantages of using laptops in classrooms. However, beside the fact that students often opt to access non-course related material during lectures, the constant use of laptops over long periods can deteriorate the eye sights of its users. This is especially the case of lectures that are a few hours long. Have you ever noticed that the majority of computer users wear eyeglasses? Computers assist students to complete assignments in a timely manner however, excessive use is detrimental to their health. Sore eyes, blurred visions and headaches are the common symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Laptop users should try to blink frequently, adjust the lighting on screens, as well as take breaks every fifteen minutes.

  22. Joe C. March 10, 2018 at 9:59 pm #

    When it comes to laptops in the classroom, I believe the cons outweigh the pros. For the pros, as this article mentions, the added benefits include having the ability to easily jot down notes, quickly research key points and having an endless digital domain at your fingertips. We all have been in a class and many of us have been distracted by the constant clacking at the keyboard by another student or the distracting bright & colorful screens that pull our attention away from the real reason that we are in that class – to learn. There are those also that will spend a good portion of the class on social media or some sports/entertainment websites, wasting away the class time and distracting those around them. Research has shown that students don’t learn as well, since they are “listening to hear” and “not listening to understand”. That is, they hear what is being said, which allows them to transfer that information to the keyboard, usually verbatim without a full understanding. This completely bypasses the thought process that allows the student to process and understand the material. How well is it going to serve you later on when you go to study if you really don’t understand the material in the first place? If the sole thought by the student is to take notes to later use that to study, I believe that you will have a much more difficult time fully understanding the material. On the other hand, if you listen, pay-attention and jot down notes, later on, that material will make much more sense to the student. It comes down to quality vs quantity; it’s not about how much you can type, it’s about how well you understand and retain that information. This is where longhand writing or taking notes comes in as a more practical application. I for one, have always chosen to take notes via pen/notepad over the laptop; for me personally, it’s a distraction to myself (as well as those around me) and I know that I do not retain as much information as I would if I listened to the lecture and jotted down notes – here and there.
    This very topic is just as bad (or sometimes worse) in a corporate/business meeting. Nearly every meeting that I have been in, someone has a laptop and the sheer number keeps growing. This I believe is far worse than the college student problem, because most people that I have observed are not taking notes or researching information about the meeting’s topic. Rather, they are glued to their emails, instant messengers or job duties. We spend so much of our work days attending meetings that it is really distracting us from getting our work done. This distraction in the meeting leads to less and less people paying attention or understanding the subject of the meeting. If your workday is only 8 hours, and the average meeting is an hour, the average person attends at least 2-3 meetings on any given day; this leads to very little time for most people to do their jobs or even do their jobs uninterrupted in a workday. The best reason that I can see people bringing laptops to a meeting are for collaborative meetings that require the sharing of data or other resources for that sole purpose. I believe we are seeing more and more laptops at meetings, because of habits that are formed through college learning that allows these devices in the classroom and other learning environments. We tend to listen and understand a lot less by these habits that we form early on.

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