Thursday, February 3, 2011

No Student Laptops Permitted in this Course. Really?

Symptomatic of the change I have made in the way I approach my classes was crystallized for me several months ago when a group of my favorite professor colleagues asserted that they now prohibit students using laptops during class sessions. Previously, I had done the same thing.

I meekly observed that I have decided to move in the opposite direction, intentionally building my classes around the use of student laptops to take advantage of the extraordinary riches--carefully chosen--of the Internet, that "virtual" knowledge which is available at their fingertips.

A prohibition of laptops represented--I will speak just for myself--my prior approach to teaching: professor-centered, lecture-oriented, cover-as-much-of-the-material-as-possible. Taking this approach, it made sense to remove the distraction for the student that his or her laptop represented. They would not be giving ME their full attention.

My feeling is one of being all alone. It is scary but somehow I feel it right for me at this stage of my career. I am certainly convinced it is right for my students. But I still am scared.

What is your reaction? Am I right to pursue my approach?

1 comment:

  1. THANK YOU! It breaks my heart to hear faculty say "No laptops in class!" Really? I have found that for me, having my laptop being able to type notes helps me focus better. Those who know me know I need to be doing something with my hands. The act of typing keeps them occupied and I tend to be able to focus more on what the instructor is saying.
    I realize as an "adult" learning my perspective is very different than when I was a "traditional" undgergrad. After all, I was the one that would look at the syllabus to see how many classes I could miss without affecting my grade then coordinate what day I would skip classes. Then it was all about the grade, now it's more about the learning process.
    Students today learn differently than they did 20 years ago. We need to adapt and build on the way they learn today.
    So yes, I think you are right to pursue this approach.