“No laptops will be permitted in the class.”
When I first read these words in my syllabus, I couldn’t help but hear the echoes of the administration. Only Vanguard would prohibit computers and call it progress (RIP computer lab).
It seems shocking that a professor would take drastic measures to ban all computers, leaving flickering fingers to relearn the art of doodling. As a technology-based generation, the keyboard just seems more basic than pen and paper. Students now scramble to keep up with a professor’s notes while Ashton Kutcher’s tweets are left to fend for themselves.
The collective grunts of students haven’t gone unnoticed; instead, the person who heard them a) recognizes that a handheld computer is expendable and b) cares about your education enough to tell you so.
It’s not so much a problem for myself personally; but when someone in power exercises authority, I take notice. Then I remember why I stick with pen and paper: some time freshman year between online Scrabble and finding out who’s pregnant from high school, my G.P.A. took an embarrassing plunge.
And I’m not alone. In an impromptu survey amongst students, 16% of note-takers admitted to being distracted “frequently” by laptop users; probably by the 16% of laptop users who admitted to “frequently” Tweeting, Facebooking and playing games.
It is part of a professor’s job to cultivate an environment that encourages learning. Therefore, when a discussion gets off-track or a debate becomes mean-spirited, it is assumed that the professor will intervene. So, when a student’s computer becomes a distraction and so subtracts from learning, the easiest thing to do is simply remove the distraction.
I’m not suggesting a school-wide prohibition of laptops; rather, that sometimes accountability is necessary for the areas we lack self-control.
But this is not possible without total cooperation. Professors, for the love of Mac, please meet us halfway. I’m sure that it may seem time efficient to lecture as students attempt to chicken scratch the block text you’ve chose to project in a red font.
On the contrary, it lowers your credibility as a communicator.
Unlike those decisions from second floor Smith, this popular syllabus clause is not excused by the oh-so-common “budget issue” defense; a professor’s main objective in this policy is learning–no hidden agenda.
When the semester is bordering that time of year when everything seems to snowball, a glorifed typewriter is the least of your worries. And if disconnecting is the difference between and A or a B, grad school or (insert non-offensive “plan B” here), then maybe it’s time to cut the cord.
Don’t worry, your pens won’t byte.