Laptops in the Classroom

by Kevin Godby

In response to Jake’s rant about a professor disallowing her students to bring their laptops to class:

I think that students should be allowed to bring their laptops to class with them, for a myriad of reasons:

  • In large lecture halls, it’s difficult to find a seat that allows me to see the whiteboard or slideshow. It’d be great if the slideshow were simulcast to my laptop.
  • With a laptop, I’m able to answer my own questions without pestering the teacher, thereby freeing up her time to help other students.
  • I can supplement the lecture with material from the Internet.
  • I can type my notes much more quickly than writing them longhand.

To counter some of the counter-arguments:

  • If my use of a laptop is distracting you, then either (a) the lecture isn’t interesting enough or worthy of keeping your attention (which is partially the fault of the instructor), or (b) focusing your attention is your problem, not mine.
  • If I do show up to class and play solitaire on my laptop, then at least I showed up to class. Why did I come to class? Because I might miss something important, and I felt that there was some value in being there. As a professor, you should take some minor comfort in that. It could have been worse: I may have determined that it wasn’t worth showing up at all.