Mar 23, 2010

Laptops in class

Some professors in the U.S. are (finally) realizing what was evident since the beginning. Laptops and Wireless, for obvious reasons, are distracting students and constructing an "inappropriate" learning environment — now I am waiting for some brilliant psychologist demonstrating that multitasking reduces concentration, inhibits creativity, etc. David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown, in 2007 (a pioneer) banished laptops from his class. When he raised the idea of cutting off laptop access with his colleagues, some accused him of “being paternalistic, authoritarian or worse”. And, of course, these “masters” added: “We daydreamed and did crosswords when we were students, so how can we prohibit our students, who are adults after all, from using their time in class as they deem fit?”. Comparing a crossword to Google, Facebook, YouTube etc… How can anyone possibly make such a comparison? Furthermore, who is the genius of pedagogy who thought that students would benefit from wireless connection in class? You can read Cole’s articles in the Wahington Post, and check an interesting video showing professors frustration about laptops in class, some other reactions to the use of cell in class (usually breaking them in pieces or similar and another interesting experiment during April 1st 2008 that summarize lots of things, laptops, evaluation etc.  I leave it up to the student’s sense of responsibility what to do with the laptop. I do, anyway, have a dream, a tiny but significant dream… May be one day a student — the average price for a private four-year university in the U.S. is around $28,000 (see this Report) — will tell to the colleague sitting next to him: “Could you please stop surfing the web, you are distracting me. I am not paying so much money to follow your Fakebook conversations”. Along with the freedom to surf the web — let’s put it this way — it exists also the freedom not to waste money and get a good education.