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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24 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. In the past, laptops were a luxury item. However, as time and technology progressed, it can be seeming as a necessity for millions of people. For instance, it appears that nowadays, without a laptop, many students would struggle to complete assignments. The reason for that being is because there are a few classes where professors require their students to do classroom work online, and if you do not have a computer than you are likely to fall behind. With that, the increase of laptops being in the classroom as a requirement or not, can be a great distraction. You see, after reading this article, I agree that to an extent, students should not use laptops in class. In the same way, I also believe that students in college and even ordinary people in the business-corporate settings, should be mature enough to direct their focus on what’s appropriate when they have a laptop sitting in front of them. Moving forward, there are several reasons why laptops are helpful in the class and business setting and why they should be excluded in certain situations.

    To start, during a lecture, I have been guilty of observing my classroom to see what the students around me were doing. I have noticed that most of my peers would have their laptops. Some would be just typing away on assignments for other classes, and others messaging friends about plans for their weekend. Or, would even be watching the latest basketball game or reality TV show during class. For reasons like this, I like the idea of taking laptops out of the classroom because students more often are using these computers for recreational purposes instead of taking notes on the information the professor before us is providing. And, for those that use computers for actual notes to help them prepare for exams, I believe that students who write with pencil and paper instead of typing, memorize the given information better. In fact, it is stated in the article, Should Professors Ban Laptops? by Susan Payne Carter, Kyle Greenberg and Michael S. Walker, “…that allowing any computer usage in the classroom even with strict limitations reduces students’ average final-exam performance by roughly one-fifth of a standard deviation” (Carter, Greenberg, Walker 5). Additionally, instead of students using their critical thinking skills, they tend to take the easy way out by surfing the web in search for their classroom questions. By banning laptops, this would allow them to stretch their thinking instead of relying on the internet do it for them. On these grounds, I believe that laptops should be taken out of classrooms.

    However, while there is great evidence supporting the idea that laptops are not very beneficial to the school environment, there are very few instances where they are useful. For example, I know that my penmanship is legible, but I cannot say the same for peers, or even for past employers that I have worked with. By allowing laptops to write notes or complete assignments in meetings or lectures, professors and even employers won’t have to struggle to make out a person’s handwriting. Especially in a classroom setting, the idea to have laptops is supported when students say they can follow the class easier and take better notes. For instance, if a professor speaks too fast, the laptop will allow the student to be more efficient by just typing instead of handwriting information. In addition, depending on the population of the class or meeting, a laptop would be helpful if you could pull up the presentation on your computer and follow the material at your own pace. Ultimately, under these circumstances, I believe that adults, students or not, should be able to work with whatever style best works for them because we all do not learn the same way.

    Sources:

    http://educationnext.org/should-professors-ban-laptops-classroom-computer-use-affects-student-learning-study/

    http://at.blogs.wm.edu/laptops-in-the-classroom-pros-cons-and-policies/

  5. This article makes very direct, but valid points. As a current college student, I have noticed many students in every single one of my classes with a laptop in front of their face. The one difference between high school and college is that most high school’s prohibited use of laptops or any type of electronic in class. More often than not, at least half of every college student has a laptop in front of them during class. One valid point this article makes is that not every laptop is being used in the same way. I have personally seen many students during class lecture playing a game or texting on their laptop. Not only does this pose a distraction to students in the class, but it is also detrimental to the students learning. On the other hand, there are some college students who use laptops as an aid to note taking, because it is easier and more convenient. There should be nothing against students who are using their laptops for the right reason, but unfortunately most do not use it for this purpose. Professors in most situation can not see what that student may be looking at on their laptop. It is very easy and tempting to open up a new tab to check social media and/or text with friends. Current generation’s are addicted to the new technology and allowing laptops in class is only making the problem worse. The purpose of college is to teach students professionalism, as well as preparation for the job force. Professors should not allow laptop use in class, unless otherwise instructed. Prohibiting the use of laptops in class will promote better student participation, class discussion and topic engagement. Furthermore, class grades, and student knowledge of class topic’s will improve tremendously.

  6. Technology can be a wonderful asset for professors to utilize while they teach and lecture their students. Note that I specifically said professors. I think that students should limit the use of laptops and other devices during class due to their negative effects. Susan Dynarski, the author of “Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting”, an article posted by the New York Times says that she will not allow students to use their devices unless they have a disability. I agree with Dynarski’s claim that students who use laptops during class are distracting to others.
    In my senior year of high school, the board of education decided to distribute a Chromebook to each student from sixth to twelfth grade. I thought that the decision to give the Chromebooks sixth graders was irresponsible due to some students the lack of maturity. Additionally, students would often play games or online shop then engaging in class discussion. Personally, I get easily distracted when a person in front of me uses their laptop inappropriately during a lecture. Of course, I have used my school laptop to watch Netflix or check sales, but I have done it during my lunch break or times that were appropriate.
    Laptops do enhance the learning process for some students in the classroom, which is why I think laptops should not be completely banned. I think that laptops are useful for gathering information, however, too much time spend looking at a laptop screen could have negative effects. The study done at the United States Military Academy (West Point), where one class were banned from using electronics, the other where they could freely use their devices, and a third that could use tablets that were flat on their desks. The result of the study showed that the students in the classroom did substantially better than those allowed access to their electronic devices. West Point students need to earn a high GPA, a congressional letter, and the involvement of clubs and sports in high school. I have a brother in an ROTC program who looked into attending West Point and a friend who will be attending in the fall. Due to the effort and hard work students put into to attend West Point, it is obvious that they are not slackers. I gather that if this study were at another university the result of students who would do well would be devastatingly low.
    Although many students believe that note taking is more efficient when using a laptop, it is less valuable. Personally, I would rather use a pen and paper to take down notes than a laptop and type. I know that for me, I benefit from writing my notes out during a lecture and then rewriting them out later so that my notes are neat. Dynarski agrees and states in her article that students gain a better understanding from listening to lectures and condensing the material into notes. Overall, the evidence given in the article and my personal experience sway me to believe that laptops should be used when necessary in the classroom.

  7. In today’s world, laptops, iPads, tablets and other technology devices are very useful tools that can be used to do various things. I personally, can definitely relate to using laptops in a class setting. I believe it is much easier to take notes on a computer than it is by hand. However, with that being said, I am definitely guilty of getting side tracked looking at other things and doing other assignments on my computer while in class. I think this article makes some very valid points regarding students getting easily distracted while using technology.

    At this point in our college careers, we have to be responsible for our own actions. I personally think the best method for me to take notes, while in class, is on a computer. It is much more legible and organized which makes it easier to prepare and study for exams. In class, it is my responsibility to make sure I am paying attention and learning what the professor is teaching. I do not think the professor should have a say on whether or not students can use technology in class because some students may be better with taking notes on computers, iPads, or tablets. Also, I think the as long as the professor is giving us what we need for any assignments or exams it is our responsibility to pay attention to get that information.

    In conclusion, I think that the professor should not worry about what the student does when it comes to taking notes. Every student is different and some students do better with technology and some do better with paper. However, that decision has to be made by the student and I do not think that the professor should have a say in how that student prefers on learning. As long as the professor teaches the information it is the students responsibility to do what they need to do in order to achieve the grade they desire.

  8. With technology and information systems becoming increasingly important in the workplace, I think it is crucial that students, especially in college, are given the opportunity to use laptops to learn and take notes if they wish to do so. In today’s contemporary workplace, being technology literate is not considered a unique skill anymore, rather, it is often listed as a required skill on job descriptions. Therefore, allowing students to utilize laptops during lectures in college provides an opportunity to become more acquainted with technology. Being born in generation where technology was just beginning to grow at an immense exponential rate, technology has not always been a tool that I have been able to use to help enhance my learning experience. In fact, I did not even own a laptop until my senior year in high school. My sister, who was born in the early 2000’s, has been given a school-issued laptop ever since she has entered the fourth grade. Although my sister and I have gone through the same school district, we have had very different experiences in relation to the use of technology in the classroom.

    As far as the usefulness of technology during college lectures, from my personal experience, I think laptops and tablets can serve as an effective means for taking notes, staying organized, and researching. For somebody who writes both sloppy and slow, having a laptop in class has been crucial for my note-taking skills, and has saved me the trouble of missing important information discussed in class. However, depending on the nature of the course, I have sometimes found laptops to be distracting and ineffective. For example, for classes that are computational-based, I am often confused as to why students are using technology when most of the class is comprised of working out problems from the textbook. But for lectured-based college courses, for the most part, I think the decision whether or not to use technology should rest on the students, not the professors. While I understand why some professors ban the use of technology during their lectures, it is crucial that these professors take into consideration that individuals learn and retain information differently. In fact, in a Wall Street Journal article, Jose Antonio Bowen discusses how “technology has increased students’ access to knowledge,” but more importantly, technology has increased the importance of “analysis” and “critical thinking” as there is a vast amount of information available on the internet (https://www.wsj.com/articles/does-technology-belong-in-classroom-instruction-1431100454). Having a laptop that provides real-time information at my fingertips is crucial for my learning as I am able to quickly look-up concepts I am unfamiliar, which prevents me from falling behind in the classroom.

    While there is undoubtedly utility in being able to use technology during lectures, we cannot ignore the fact that these tools can be a distraction. Rather than utilizing technology as a guide in the classroom, I often see students get distracted where they are watching movies, on social media, or in some cases, doing work for other classes as discussed in the article. I think college is an essential time for students to learn how to discipline themselves and manage their time, so when I see professors go out of their way to discipline their students, I do not believe they are actually helping the student. If a college undergraduate wants to waste their money by not paying attention in class, then I think they should be free to do so. These poor decisions, in turn, will be reflected in their grades, and if the student desires a higher grade, then he or she will have to discipline themselves as part of a learning experience. In the article, Dynarski argues that a student who is distracted on their laptop can negatively affect the other students in the class. However, as a student, if I see somebody misusing their device in class, I simply remind myself that I should not somebody else’s poor decision affect my learning experience. Given that the next generation of college students will have grown up using technology in the classroom, I sure hope that professors who adhere to strict technology-free policies will reconsider its usefulness in enhancing the learning experience.

  9. Students using laptops in class has become a controversial argument in the classroom environment. Laptops make it easier for students to take notes and to stay organized during a lecture. They allow the student to lookup whatever they want, when they want in class. However, laptops also make a distraction for the student. If the student owns a Macbook, they have the ability to use text messages on their laptop instead of their phone. In addition to this, the student could be distracted by videos or other things instead of taking notes.
    I personally prefer writing my notes out by hand instead of typing them up. When I write my notes, I can retain more information. This is because when I’m using my laptop I can get distracted by different notifications that I may be receiving. Some professors like students using their laptop because it saves them on paper and the professor can upload their files for the students to download. And on the other hand some professors don’t like students using their laptops because of the distraction that it causes.

  10. Growing up in the age where technology is so prevalent it is hard to get away from such technologies. Laptops are one that is extremely hard to get away from in the high school and college years. Laptops are widely used in college and are becoming used more often in high school. I don’t understand why students feel the need to use laptops in high school when their classes are a lot shorter than those in college as well as the material does not call for the use of the computer. In high school, I took notes by pen and paper, and that carried on to college. While all of my friends use their laptops to take notes, I personally cannot because I know that I understand more when making the notes by hand. The studies taken by Princeton University as well as UCLA showed that “those who had used laptops had substantially worse understanding of the lecture, as measured by a standardized test, that those who did not” which from personal experience I believe it is true. At Seton Hall, they provide their students with laptops which in my opinion shows that they are encouraging their students to use the computers in the classroom. The only time that I use the laptop in the classrooms is when during my bio class I needed to draw something out, and it looked a lot better on the computer or when during English class it needed to be pulled out so we could type something. One thing that my sister found useful for her biology class which is held in a lecture hall is that instead of trying to keep up with her professor and type out the notes she found that if she goes in and just sits and listens through the lecture, she retains more. After just listening to the speech she goes home and takes handwritten notes of the PowerPoint that the teacher teaches off to make sure that she retained the maximum amount of material even after the class.
    Another thing that I have noticed in Seton Hall is that many professors have actually banned the use of electronics in class; this is what most teachers need to do. In banning laptops, teachers are better able to get the maximum amount of focus from their students as well as leaving out any possible distractions from their students. Laptops are such a problem in college especially in the classes that students believe they do not need or do not care about. On top of wasting $350 on a course now, the students are using the $250 laptop as a distraction which is wasting about $600 of their education. That is one thing that college students fail to put into perspective; when they come into class and spend their time not paying attention and being distracted on their computer, they are wasting money. All students should do a self-assessment and see which method allows them to retain the most information. Whether it is taking notes by pen and paper or if it is by taking notes on their laptop.

  11. I have always preferred writing my notes by hand in class. First of all, I do not fully trust electronics. My laptop could die, could have an update, or take too long to function. The traditional way of taking notes is always the most reliable. My backpack is more light without my laptop and I can write all over my pages of notes with different pens and draw different diagrams. I do, however, see the benefits of taking notes with a laptop. It is quicker to type, you have a variety of sources available if you want to look something up and you can have an online textbook that can accompany you in class without carrying a physical book. But I have found that I understand my notes better when they were hand written.
    Laptops are a distraction in class. I have noticed this myself if I ever tried to take notes on my laptop. I feel the need to check my email or go on Facebook, meanwhile missing what my professor is saying that may be crucial information. There are plenty of things to click on to get distracted. Even when someone else is using their laptop around you it is distracting. The colors changing on the screen that are moving draw your eyes to it. Then you become a victim to the distraction even if you are writing by hand. The article calls this “visual pollution” that people are drawn to. The laptop distraction when taking notes reminds me of an article that discusses a cell phone being a distraction. You go on your phone to check your email and somehow you end up on Instagram. The solution to the cell phone addiction was to turn the phone to gray-scale. The apps on our phones distract us with the colors and patterns and convince us to click the apps when we are trying to be productive. Maybe a solution to laptop distractions is changing the color of the screen to gray-scale?

  12. After reading this article, I could understand most of the points that were being made but in the end, I was not able to say that I agree with them. In most of my classes, I find it easier and more effective to take notes on my laptop. Some of the exceptions to taking notes on my laptop that I have is if the situation really does not call for it, or if there is some kind of math involved. I personally find it a lot easier to do math with paper and pencil, rather than typing or drawing on a laptop. We live in the 21st century and a prominent part of it is the fact that we have the technology that we do. I personally never understood why professors would not allow students to use their laptops to take notes. I believe that it should be up to the student, not only because the student will know the best way for them when taking notes but also because that same student is spending a lot of money to get that education. I believe that if you are spending that kind of money that it should be your decision if you want to take notes on a laptop or not. I also understand that a lot of people will get distracted and maybe go away form taking notes and play a game or something of that nature, but that is the student’s decision and the professor should not care as much. I will not lie and I admit that I will get distracted on my laptop sometimes and do other things, but it does not mean that I am not learning the material that is being taught to me. One way that I find the laptops to be extremely effective in taking notes is when the professor shares their PowerPoint slides with you on the lesson that they are teaching for that day. You are able to take those notes and instead of just rewriting what is on the slides you can annotate them and put side notes next to the words on the slides to help you understand everything better. One thing that I used to always do when hand writing notes is just write whatever was on the slides and not add in what the professor adds. When I use a laptop, I am able to already have those notes written out in front of me and I can add what the professor says about each item on the slides. Overall, laptops have their pros and cons for taking notes but in the end, the professor needs to leave it up to the student on whether or not they want to use it or not because it is their education.

  13. I am not surprised with the results of the tests they made on students that were using laptops during classes vs students that weren’t. I understand the teachers that forbids the use of computers and other electronic devices in class because the utilization that the student make of it is something that they can not control. So they have more impact when everybody is taking notes with a pen and paper. Even if it could be unfair for people that actually are making a good use of their laptops, it is the only way the teachers can be sure that the students are at least listening a little bit.
    The alternative to this problem could be integrating an online part to a physically presence class. I a firm believer that online classes will be almost everything in the future. But not everything because it will still be important to have face to face meetings. Say a teacher is teaching a class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 to 12, he could maybe also the students to have their computers and they would have to send their content on Thursday nights and instead of having class on Fridays the teacher would take this time to check the content, the outside sources, the connections and reflections that the students made. And this would be a part of the final grade. I don’t know if that is possible but it is still an idea on how teachers could kind of control what their students are doing when they use their laptops in class.

  14. I could not agree more with this article, laptops in classrooms are detrimental to learning. I have experienced this firsthand with myself, and with others. Because of the speed of typing and the ease of just watching words form on a page, taking notes on a laptop presents itself to be an easy method of note taking, making sure that you don’t miss anything. But what students don’t realize is that there is a disconnect between them and the material once they start to do that. Writing notes down has proven significantly more helpful for many reasons. For example, students who write down notes by hand have to summarize and put material into their own words in order to write fast enough and keep up. This means they are thinking about the material and processing it as writing, which is more helpful in the end. Typed notes end up looking like transcripts, and become the exact same thoughts and words that the professor presented, there is not comprehension, only a transcript. This happens because “taking notes by hand requires different types of cognitive processing than taking notes on a laptop”, and this changes how the material is learned. From my experience, taking notes on a laptop makes me feel like I’m not even present in the class. I am essentially transcribing the lecture, and that’s all. I typically would not look at those notes again, or refer to them for help with homework, because at that point they are words on a screen to me. I think all professors should ban laptops from their classes for note-taking purposes. Students will take these opportunities to sometimes even do other work for classes, or look things up on the internet and then they are completely detached from the discussion occurring in front of them. As stated in the article, this effects the students around them greatly, as they see one student on an irrelevant website, it makes them want to look at other things too. If professors banned laptops from classes, I believe they would see an improvement in grades because the students would be learning more without even realizing.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/business/laptops-not-during-lecture-or-meeting.html

  15. Using laptops and electronics during college classes can definitely negatively impact a student’s learning. From personal experience, when allowed to use a laptop in class I believe I am not always paying attention. Meanwhile in a classroom where the teacher sets a strict tone from the being and also bans electronics, I take good hand-written notes and I learn a lot. Even if using a laptop to take notes and not to be distracted, it is proven that people retain hand written notes better than notes taken electronically. When studying for a test I always hand write my study guides, so I retain the material better. Just like the article explains, sometimes one may find themselves just typing away and not realizing what they are writing. Despite all of this there is definitely a fine line here because as the world is technologically advancing, laptops are a part of our culture. As this continues it is going to be very difficult for teachers to determine if their students should be allowed to use electronics or not.

  16. In the article “Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting” by Susan Dynarski from the New York Times, introduces us to the pros of an electronic free learning setting. Susan Dynarski is a firm believer that electronics such as laptops, tablets, and phones should not be used in lectures or meetings. Her belief is that someone who uses an electronic device is more likely to not retain the information presented to him or her. Susan Dynarski also cites studies performed at the United States Military Academy, in which the lectures were divided into three groups. One lecture had a group with laptops, the second had tablets as long as they were faced down on the desk in order for the professor to see what they were doing, and the third lecture banned electronics. The result of this experiment turned out to be that “By the end of the semester, students in the classrooms with laptops or tablets had performed substantially worse than those in the sections where electronics were banned” (Dynarski). These results show that those who were exposed to electronic devices in a lecture, were more likely to score lower than those who had zero access to electronics. Some might argue that electronic devices help keep notes more structured and it is also easier to type up all the information rather than writing it down the old fashioned way with a pen and a piece of paper. Susan Dynarski thinks otherwise and I agree, we both believe that a student would retain more information through pen and paper, since the brain has to process what is being said in order to write down the least amount of information. When typing, many students can type up exactly what the teacher is saying, but not realize what they are saying. Even though I do not use pen and paper to take notes, I certainly do not use a laptop, and I have noticed that by just listening to what my professor is explaining, I am able to learn more and comprehend the message behind each topic. Everyone is different when it comes to learning, but I am certain that electronic devices does hinder learning performance.

  17. Technology is growing by the day while students and professors are utilizing technological skills to help improve the learning process. In this article, the author critiques having laptops during lectures as stated students are not learning as shown from “a growing body of evidence.” Yes, there are many surveys that suggest technology supposedly affects students’ learning. However, in an age where technology is improving daily, eliminating technology in classrooms, specifically laptops, is going to be difficult, especially in lecture halls. I see why the author believes this as having laptops during a lecture may distract some students. Some students by be on their computer learning and taking the notes, and some may be playing games or not doing anything at all. However, that is not the technologies fault, as the students are the ones that are taking notes, not the laptop. At the end of the day, the students are the ones who go to school to et an education an learn. There are going to be many students who snooze off in class and do not pay attention at all. The author brings up “selection bias” as a reasoning that laptops should not be used in lecture halls. This should not be the case because I remember going to school with just paper and pen and I would still get distracted by either doodling in class or just staring at my paper. Either way students are going to divert their attention elsewhere if the material is boring making the student uninterested. Another fault I have that the author wrote was a cartoon image with the teacher saying, “…and you just type whatever I say without thinking.” I do not like how this picture is portraying laptops as the student types what the teacher is learning with no knowledge of what they are writing. Can’t one say the same thing with writing down lectures instead of typing. Also, when I write my lecture notes, I organize by notes with titles and bullet points allowing me to have an easier time when I must review my notes. I might be biased because my handwriting is not the best, but personally, myself and many other students find their way of learning easier when using a laptop to write notes. Although some people may not agree, I am just stating my previous knowledge and past experiences. If the student puts in the work, by either typing their notes or writing it out on a paper, they will succeed. Remember, the student is the one who is deciding their outcome, not the technology.

  18. This article is touchy for a number of reasons, especially since I can agree (and disagree) with some of these points that this article writer (in this case, Susan Dynarski) tries to make. Even though that Dynarski makes some great points and provides excellent research and studies, I cannot say that I completely agree with her completely on her stance on electronics in certain environments (such as the classroom).

    To start off, Dynarski does mention some great points and brings up some studies to showcase them, such as the studies done at York University and McMaster University (Canada). I found that I was able to relate to these studies firsthand, as I have caught myself slipping away from the material or the coursework that was being taught at the time, and might dabble into what my 3 fantasy football teams are looking like, or trying to see if my professor for my other class had already graded my midterm. Not only is that accurate, but I’ve seen this method of distraction distract me when I don’t even have a computer. The best method I have for this is comparing this computer screen watching is comparing it to second-hand smoking. Even though I might not be doing it directly, it is still preoccupying me and drawing enough attention that I do take a couple of seconds to marvel at how stupid that website is, or wondering why they are online shopping and what they are looking for.

    The fact of the matter though, is that not all students, nor classes, are alike and many prefer different styles, something that Dynarski fails to realize. For an English class, people might favor their laptops over other methods of taking notes, as they can pull up PDFs of certain writings to analyze at a click of the button. For math classes, some might prefer writing down the notes by hand, as it is much easier to write down certain functions by hand than to try and flail at doing so in a notes document. However, students will find their own ways of taking notes and will adapt to a way that helps them learn. It might take a class, a couple weeks, or even as long as a semester or two for someone to get comfortable with their own styles or recording notes and grasping the materials. But, for Dynarski to completely ban electronics from her classroom and to shift all of her students into a centralized method of recording and interpreting notes is too far-fetched and can be a hassle. Plenty of students love to follow along on their laptops, whether its through an online textbook or for those teachers who upload powerpoints, so for Dynarski (or any professor, for that matter), I think that this ban can and will have negative externalities for some students out there.

  19. I do agree laptops could be a distraction in class, but I also believe they are the best way to take notes. I personally am trying to be as paperless as possible. In our world today we use way too much paper. If we all go to online notes on our computers we will limit our paper use as a country. The only problem with computers compared to a note book is the distractions that come with a computer. We can all admit that we drift off in class from time too time and a computer makes this much worse. With so many things to look up online, all the distractions are at your finger tips.

    One thing that could solve this major distractions but limit paper use could be the use of an electronic notepad which does not give you access to the internet for distractions. Students would be able to take notes in class and would be helping the environment at the same time. Overall, computers can be a great green alternative to paper note taking but pose a major distraction to people who can not stay at the task at hand 100% of the time.

  20. RE: Laptops are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.

    The news that laptops are a distraction in the classroom is neither new nor surprising. I think it is great that Susan Dynarski does not allow the use of electronics in her classroom, and I wish that more teachers would ban them too. Every semester I wonder what the situation will be for each of my classes regarding laptop use. Some professors do not allow them at all. Some of them require that all students show up for class “prepared” with a laptop. Then there are the classrooms in which the use of a laptop is purely based on each student’s personal preference. Personally, I prefer not to bring mine because it adds weight and bulk to my bag and it could get stolen if I do not keep it within reach at all times. I am also very easily distracted, so it is a threat to my learning experience. In the classes that require the students to bring laptops, I find myself distracted trying to complete tasks on it and not really paying attention or learning because I am focusing on using it. In classrooms where the use of electronics is a student’s choice, I find myself looking at the screens on my classmates’ laptops or tablets. I am currently taking a class that falls in the latter category. Though the student who sits in front of me appears to be paying enough attention to know what is going on most of the time, he is never using his computer for purposes related to the course. During a recent class session, he was browsing a web site with jewelry. Because I collect gemstones, I was interested in what he was looking at and had a hard time not looking at his screen. To further distract me, it is not often that I see guys casually shopping for jewelry, so I was wondering what he was doing instead of listening to the lecture. It is a good thing that the instructor is good at keeping the attention of anyone who truly cares to listen, and I happen to be one of them. Several other people use their tablets and laptops during this class. A few of them have the same PowerPoint presentation open on their screens as the professor has on the projector. Several of them are watching sports games during class. At the very least, that is completely disrespectful.

    Dynarski has a short list of useful purposes for laptops in the classroom, including the ability to download course readings, quickly looking something up that is unfamiliar, and keeping well-organized lecture notes. I think that course material should be read prior to the start of class and that unless the reading is assigned during the class meeting there should be no need to download it during that time. If there is a point that needs to be clarified, asking about it might enhance the discussion. If it does not add value to the lecture, it is probably more appropriate to find the answers online outside of class time. Dynarski suggests typing hand-written notes later on to reinforce the points that were discussed and to create notes as organized as ones that were typed during lecture. I tend to find ways to remember things and skip note-taking almost completely in order to keep my attention on the class and absorb as much information as I can. I have gotten good at this – better than I am at note-taking, either by hand or on a computer. Even when I think that my attention was poor during a class, I realize that I retained a lot when it is time for an exam or a quiz. If it is allowed, I will record a lecture so that I can listen to it again while driving. Doing so makes me feel more relaxed about not taking notes so I can listen better.

    Dynarski says that laptops are a negative externality – “one person’s use of a laptop harms the learning of students around them”. I have found this to be true, at least for myself. Between the sparkly gemstones on one classmate’s screen and feeling incredulous about the audacity of the students watching sports during lecture, I have definitely missed a few points. She also says that laptops have a negative effect on what the students who use them learn. Using the same class as an example, I noticed that the students who are using their computers or tablets either for note-taking or game-watching ask the professor to repeat things so many times that there is a collective groan from the rest of us each time.

  21. All across campuses in the United States laptops and other mobile devices, such as iPads and smartphones are increasingly appearing in classrooms. Many professors allow students to use their laptops in class as they believe it is an opportunity for more innovative learning and they think it is a way to increase student participation during lectures. Laptops enables students to take notes that are more detailed and more quicker than a piece of paper. I can relate as I can type quicker than I can write and taking notes on my laptop allows me to write down more information than I could with a pen and paper. Additionally, it makes everything neat and legible which is a bonus for me because I do not have the best handwriting. Laptops can also be used to access the internet for information that we do not understand during the lecture. Instead of wasting time to raise your hand and ask the professor what does that word mean, the student can just look it up and find out instantly what the definition is. Teachers can use laptops to advance students knowledge on research skills such as finding the right article for a paper or an assignment. Laptops and smart devices help students learn more than they would if they were just allowed to bring a pen and a notebook.
    However, there is also a disadvantage of having laptops in class and meetings. The distraction of the open internet can significantly impact student learning. I have seen on many occasions were students are pretending to take notes but instead are on social media, playing games, or watching movies or YouTube. I will be honest, I have played games through lectures because my laptop was a big distraction. People will pick and choose to which lectures they want to listen to and use their laptops to do whatever they want on lectures they do not care about. This is an obvious issue and students are not learning on the material that is being taught in class, instead they are too busy looking at social media or playing a game. The advantages of pen and paper is that there is no option but to listen to the lecture and take notes on what is being said. There will be no distractions of a laptop or games that can be played if it is available to the student. This article definitely makes me realize how much useful information a professor said to me that I have not received because I was too distracted from my laptop. However, there had been times where I have taken good notes on my device and used the valuable notes to study for tests. Therefore, there are advantages and disadvantages of using laptops in class or in meetings it just depends on how distracted the student or user gets by having one in front of them.

  22. The use of electronics in classroom is something that is constantly being debated heavily. Rider University doesn’t have a set policy to determine whether or not it is allowed, however, they do have a policy that states that each professor can set their own policy when it comes to this. In classes that banned electronics completely, I found myself more engaged in the class. I would turn off my phone for the duration of the class and leave my laptop at home. No distractions. I would absorb a lot more of the material, and I would participate more in class discussions, (probably because I was actually paying attention). I feel as though, in these, classes I was able to take so much more away from the class at the end of all of it. Handwriting notes for me, also helps me remember things better. When I type it, it almost becomes mechanical – I don’t really think about WHAT I am typing, I just rush to copy it all down. I often times, find myself looking at my typed notes and writing them on paper anyway.
    I definitely agree with this article when they say that laptop use in lectures is beneficial because students can look up words that they are unsure of, and most times they can type faster than they write which means that they will be able to copy down more information. However, I also agree that laptops are a big distraction which may also prevent students from being engaged in the discussions and from copying down the material. In classes where professors allowed laptops, I found myself putting it to very good use sometimes, but other times, I found myself getting very easily distracted: shopping online, doing homework for other classes, etc. I realized at the end of the lecture that I had hardly listened and didn’t retain any information. I think that there is a solution that some schools could use when it comes to this. Some schools could try having laptops readily available for students to use that block social media pages, and game websites, etc. This would maybe deter students from getting distracted while trying to type notes. I realize that this is a huge cost factor so not every college could do this, however they could also set restrictions on the networks that wouldn’t allow students to go to websites such as this. Overall, I feel that the professors should be able to set policies when it comes to their classrooms and students shouldn’t argue it.
    If a professor chooses to allow students to bring their personal laptops, they could try to make sure students are engaged by walking around the classrooms more, but really it is up to the student.

  23. Susan’s article brings up some pretty interesting points about the implications of using laptops in class has. She does dive into the positive aspects laptops have in allowing students to access concepts faster or download certain information, but the over the consensus of this piece is to highlight the negative aspects laptops have in a classroom. Personally, I am on the fence on this topic. Most of my classes allow me to use my laptop and occasionally there have been times where I used it to goof off ultimately it has been a crucial aspect to some of my classes. In my English class all of our readings are digital so having a laptop in class helps immensely and in Business Law we are often encouraged to look up information we don’t know. We are moving into a more digital age and I feel like we should not be straying away from technology when soon society will be 100% based around it. On the flip side, Susan brings up multiple studies in which students that used their laptops performed poorly in class and retained less information which is understandable. However, for me, I have never been good with notes, I always take them down but copying them off a power point on paper is the exact same as typing them into a computer. I am just writing down what I see or hear as fast as I can and always playing catch up. I feel like regardless note taking is the same with or without it. Laptops can be very distracting but I honestly feel like with the rate we’re going it is better to stick with them than drop them entirely from our education system.

  24. Technology plays a vital role in enhancing the level of learning and instruction in the classroom. Based on the reading, there are many reaosns why laptops are great but not during a lecture or meeting. To begin with, there are numerous reasons why laptops should not be permitted in the classroom, Laptops make it very difficult for students to be creative in classroom activates. The students may find themselves becoming distracted from the lectures due to social networks and other entertaining computer programs. Laptops also prove to be huge distractions to the teacher due to the loud clicking of keyboard keys and the blank stare on the students faces while they type their notes. Considering both the pros and cons of the laptop in class, I think laptops should not 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 students might learn from this misuse of the laptops by experiencing a slip in grades in their class participation. To continue, 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. 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. This causes a distraction towards Professors and students as well. Some professors may not be comfortable with the use of laptops, because they rather students use critical thinking, however students would continue using their laptops to answer the questions being asked. Personally, I know I am better off without a laptop and prefer to learn with pen and paper during class. With the use of laptops during class, I know that I would eventually do some online shopping, play games, or even do 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. For this reason, pen and paper is the best tools l I can take with me to class in order to keep me focused and give the professor who is lecturing my undivided attention.

    Overall, while some colleges and universities have allowed that each student bring their personal laptops with internet connectivity to class while others believe, including myself, they easily weaken the learning abilities of students instead of promoting and increasing learning in the classroom. The problem is that most students are doing things not related to academics. For this reason, I can agree with the issues proposed in this article. The use of laptops during lectures or meetings simply allows students to use the internet and do non-course related activities: check emails, play online games, visit social media networks such as Facebook, and instant message other friends inside and outside of their current classroom. Students performing non course related activities on their laptops distract their fellow classmates as well. A student who misuses their laptop hinders their own learning as well as the learning of peers who are using their laptops appropriately. A student watching a comedy and smiling can distract another classmates’ learning and the disrespect the professor who is struggling to teach. Although the use of laptops during a lecture or meeting is helpful for people, it can also cause distraction to others in the same room.

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