Subjected to Paper: My little rant on teachers who ban laptops

When it comes to note-taking I’m generally not the best, but one thing I will say for myself is that I have a system. A system that I have developed to perfection over my college career. First I get a cloud storage service i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, Skydrive (this year it’s Skydrive). Then I make a folder for each class where I can put my syllabus, any digital readings or assignments, and most importantly my notes. For any class excluding math courses I find that taking notes with a keyboard is much more efficient than writing things by hand. Additionally when I’m writing fast with a pencil or pen it tends to become unreadable. Digital notes also cut down on paper usage if you’re into the whole go green thing.

All of that being said, I get a little aggravated when my teachers tell me that I am forbidden from using a laptop in class. It throws a wrench in my well oiled machine and makes it much less likely that I will be able to take good notes and more importantly, find the information again when I need it. Now all of these professors think that they have good reasons for disallowing laptops in class but in my humble opinion they are dead wrong! There are only two arguments I ever hear for banning laptops. Below are descriptions of these reasons and my take on them.

You will distract yourself and fail the course

Ok so this seems like a pretty logical argument. If you have a laptop in class you will spend all of your time browsing the web and checking your Facebook which will distract you from the lecture and cause you to fail the course. The problem I have with this is the same problem I have with mandatory attendance (we won’t get into that now). I pay for every lecture that I attend and if I want to waste that lecture by checking my Facebook then that should be my own choice to make, plain and simple. The exception to this is in certain classes that are centered around participation and discussion but most of the time that does not apply.

You will distract others and make them fail the course

Again this seems perfectly rational and has a bit of truth in it. If you are allowed to use your laptop in class you will inevitably cave and log into WOW and spend the whole class questing instead of learning. This of course will be so interesting that  everyone in the class will feel their eyes gravitating to your screen and the hope for education will be destroyed. I am not denying that their are people who will play games and watch movies while in class but I don’t think I’ve ever been overly distracted or seen anyone else get distracted. Usually these people tend to sit in the back of the class where no one can see what they are doing.

If you have anything to add to either side of this argument feel free to post your opinion in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Subjected to Paper: My little rant on teachers who ban laptops

  1. Dave says:

    I totally agree with you rant. Let’s also take a couple of other points into account. First – in this day and age almost everyone has a laptop and types better then they write (even an old guy like me). second – you are a computer science major. You should be encouraged to use laptops and cloud storage.

  2. mjholtzem says:

    You would think that only older professors who are afraid of technology would ban computers but oddly enough it’s actually my computer science teachers just as often. I agree they should be encouraging modern tools

  3. Melanie Early says:

    Well said! I hate when they don’t trust us to be responsible…

  4. Sydney Pierce says:

    I am surprised there are college level teachers banning laptops.

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