In classrooms across campus, computers are being fired up. Not the computers in the labs, but our individual laptops, the electronic notebook that we hope will assist us in furthering our education.
But are the expensive laptops that we received for our birthdays, high school graduation or purely out of our own bank accounts aiding our efforts to graduate in a timely manner? Surveys and professors across the nation are saying no.
According to a Harvard study, laptop users paid more attention to what was on the laptop, like video poker or Internet searches, for 58 minutes out of a 75-minute class.
Professors here at CSUN are now placing on their syllabi that no electronic devices can be used in the classroom, which includes cell phones and laptops.
“My sense is that the greater threat to classroom learning is cell phone text messaging, which students think they can do unobtrusively without the professor knowing,” said professor Scott Kleinman of the English department.
Those of us without the laptops insist on using our mobile devices, a blackberry for instance, assuming that the professor cannot see us holding the device under our desk, staring at it punching in words and symbols. Maybe it has not occurred to us that the professor standing in front of us, attempting to further our education can actually see this incessant usage and simply does not engage in that tired debate.
Laptops, unlike cell phones, cannot be hidden easily, they make noise, the start up tune is as distracting as a ring or the sound of a vibrating cell phone in a backpack. Furthermore, the keypad clicks and the cords that hang from the wall pose a threat to the sleepy-eyed student.
The ban on the use of laptops on our campus as well as on campuses throughout the nation has triggered debates regarding how far a professor can go in terms of the restricting the use of technology in classrooms today.
Laptops are portable computers that enable the student to work on papers, a thesis or even engage themselves in some scientific research. But one must wonder in the calculus class how is an individual able to take notes, draw patterns and figure formulas with the keyboard?
“For some subjects, like English 400, I have to wonder how students with computers were recording IPA transcriptions, and the like,” Kleinman said.
Can a person go through an entire day without technology? A microwave, even a cappuccino maker is a technological device that one will have to try exceptionally hard in order to avoid use. However, a classroom is our opportunity to learn, to figure out the professional being that we are to become, not an opportunity to check the highlights of the Super Bowl Game or catch up on e-mail.
Our generation has been raised on technology. Cell phones were handed to some of us in elementary school, and plasma televisions were in our bedrooms. So of course we need a laptop in the classroom, but is it really helping us take notes or understand the lecture more completely? Is it enhancing our costly education?
In ten years when the interest rates of our Stafford loans appear on our bank statements, we the students will want to look fondly upon our college days, knowing that we received the education that we paid for. The use of laptops in the classroom is a rebellion to ourselves; by not being active participants, instead distracted by technology, we are causing our own education to be tarnished.