Laptops in Lectures

A few years ago while I was in high school, my teachers taught me that technology and having a laptop would be a huge thing within colleges and universities. This is such a contrast compared to what I have heard in most of my classes.

Many of my professors have suggested that laptops are not as good for note-taking as hand-written notes are and there are studies to support this as well. Some of these studies suggest that handwritten notes help you remember things better, and others talk about how laptops are too distracting to not only the user of the laptop, but also the people around them.

I tend to agree with what these studies say and what professors state. I definitely used my laptop more in my first year of university because most other students were. I often would peruse facebook, twitter and play games online while in class because I would get bored and then distracted. I’ve stopped using my laptop in class, although still bring it with me to school in order to web browse, type essays and research during my breaks and time alone at school.

I know I have some friends at school that take issue with professors discouraging the use of laptops in class, mostly because they do enjoy playing games or web-surfing in class.

I think there is definitely merit in including other technologies in the classroom, I have had several professors use slideshows which are good for organizing their notes. The only time I take issue with professors using slideshows is when they strictly use just the slideshow to convey information. I like when professors get off track and teach us things not necessarily on the lesson plan because it is more interesting and helps us to understand the information more. So just like laptops, I think slideshows have their limitations as well.

I think there is an interesting debate in the use of laptops or tablets in the classroom. My opinion about this debate is that students using laptops should have to sit in the back rows of the class in order to not distract other students, unless the purpose of using the laptop is strictly for education use or because of a disability. There are some classes where typing does come in handy for professors who speak quickly or convey a lot of information. But classes, especially in the humanities which are not note-heavy do not require laptops…if you are in a seminar I strongly suggest not using your laptop because those classes are usually participation-heavy and rely a lot on class communication more than lectures do.

Although I still occasionally use my laptop in class, I do discourage others to do so. I find that I do get distracted by facebook and other social media sites quite often. Usually I end up leaving the class not knowing what happened and feeling like I wasted my tuition.

For students that do use their laptops for note-taking and get distracted but want that distraction to stop, use Focus 45 for Chrome. You need to download and use Chrome (which I prefer anyways) and what it does is it doesn’t allow you to go onto certain sites which you can block. It does not 100% block you from the sites, but when you try to go onto one of your blocked sites it alerts you with the time left you have until you can go onto it, and also provides an option for you to continue to the site if you are taking a break. I find that it is just a good reminder for myself, especially while studying or writing an essay. Without thinking I will go onto facebook and just start scrolling but with Focus 45 on I will click onto facebook and be reminded that I am trying to study still.