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The great debate: Laptops in the classroom

By Zach Laderman
On January 23, 2014

If there's one thing virtually all college students have, it's a laptop. It seems no matter where you go there's always a hip twenty something, drinking their Starbucks and typing away furiously on their MacBook Pro. The classroom, of course, is no exception. Take a glance around your next class, and you'll find any number of students with laptops on their desk. Some of them are typing up additional notes while others are on Facebook, chatting with friends. Some professors have even taken to banning all electronic devices from their classroom in order to circumvent students from participating in the latter activities.
Now, there's no question that laptops can absolutely be a huge distraction for anyone. Personally, I find myself extremely distracted by my device whenever I take it to class, and thus, I do it only sparingly. It doesn't take me more than five minutes before I've logged onto Facebook, checked the menu at McMahon, and started researching the history of Canada, all while my professor gives detailed explanations of topics that will likely show up on the exam. I know that I can't focus with a laptop, and that's why I only bring it to a single one of my classes, where it's absolutely necessary.
On the other hand, however, there are those students with the requisite level of focus to handle having an unlimited source of information in front of them without becoming ensnared by it. To those that are able, I commend them. Chances are good that they're both typing, and retaining, more information than most others in the class, especially if they're typing up both the notes provided by the professor (slides, notes on the board, etc.) as well as the additional comments the professors make during their lectures.
Would it be a good or bad idea for professors to ban laptops from their classrooms? I concede that there have been times where I myself have thought that it might be beneficial for the university as a whole to ban laptops during lectures. Fewer distractions could lead to higher average grades, university wide. On the other hand though, I'm not sure it's the university's job to babysit like that. We're not kids in high school anymore. Now is the time when we should all be making rational and intelligent decisions for ourselves, rather than letting authority figures make them for us.
So, UConn professors, please don't stop us from bringing our laptops in. Those who wish to do so will face the consequences as adults, or reap the rewards. We won't blame you if our grades go down, because the fault will lie with us. However, so will the success when some of those who bring our computers do exceptionally well!

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