December 18, 2008

Laptop "Controversy"

Last time I sat through a grad school class before this past semester was 1995.  Things have certainly changed, one of the most visible being everyone coming to class with their laptop. Apparently this has caused some controversy.

To those who would ban laptops from their class, I have to wonder what they're thinking.  Are they worried that some folks are not paying attention and surfing the net?  Who cares?  If they are being that dumb then they simply won't pass the class.  It's not like you can ever know if the roomful of faces staring at you are really listening anyway.  They might be off in La-La land while you drone on.

If it's class participation you're worried about, then make that part of their grade.  If their too busy on their computers to engage, then they won't pass the class.

Most of the people I've observed in my current grad course are following along with all of the professor's online content.  Downloading PDFs, looking up things mentioned in class, referring to the online syllabus, etc.  If they do surf, it's usually the quick game score check, tweet, or email. I would think having that stuff off their minds would make them better engaged in the class.

Your thoughts?

(image CC tanten @ flickr)