Banning Laptops–Solution or Neoluddism?

One area where HHD faculty and students sometimes clash is on the use of laptops and other technology in class. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted why some faculty ask students to leave their laptops (and other devices) at home.  I wonder what HHD students think?

I have mixed feelings on the issue. I still usually take pen and pad to meetings, because I find I’m more focused and retain more from the meetings if I do that.  On the other hand, I find I end up doing double work, sometimes, because then I have to re-type my notes into a file or email to follow-up on tasks or communication from the meeting.  Of course, I also find that when I take my laptop, I often get distracted and don’t end up with the notes I needed to take to have good follow-up!

In the classroom, I do a lot of active learning.  It can be hard to get students to engage and discuss class material, if everyone is surfing the web (even if they are looking up things relevant to the topic).  While I don’t make an issue, since I think students need to be comfortable with their own style of productivity and engagement, there have definitely been times when i felt I needed to ban laptops.

I’d love to hear from students on this.  Should HHD faculty ban laptops? Share your thoughts here in the comments or send them to me through Twitter @DennisG_Shea with #PSUHHD.  We’ll discuss this question on my weekly Twitter Office Hours (Tweet-OHs) from 9-10 PM on Wednesday, Sept. 2

4 thoughts on “Banning Laptops–Solution or Neoluddism?

  1. Sue Barsom

    Hi Dennis,
    I wonder if you could also ask: In what situations/class activities might the use of laptops be a distraction to other students and the instructor(s)?
    Asking about an outright ban presents an either-or scenario.
    Thanks for bringing this up, though. It is an issue in many classrooms.
    Sue Barsom

  2. Craig gruneberg

    Dennis – if you want to reach out to her, Molly Countermine recently posted about reverting to strictly pad and pencil in her classes. It would be interesting to hear what she has to say and track her progress.

  3. Marja Verbeeten

    I learned this from a colleague here: if a student brings in a laptop or tablet, he/she can only sit in the last row, so no other students will be looking at the screen. Way less computers are brought in after I announce this.

  4. joe dionisio

    Like you Dennis i too have not reached a definitive view on this subject…I am strongly influenced by the fact that many students are really “surfing” and not paying attention…therefore, until I resolve this for myself, I have insisted that those who want to use laptops sit in the front row of the class…it was interesting to note the before and after resulting from this rule…
    Joe Dionisio

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