There is often debate around whether laptops should be allowed in the classroom. While I am no expert, I can share my experience with laptops in the classroom.
So, what have I used my laptop for in class? To take notes. To have readings for class handy. Look up an answer to a professors question. To look up answers to related thoughts that pop in my head.
But that isn’t all, is it? I’ve checked my Facebook. Have Twitter open. Google chat open. Check my Google Reader. Worked on work for other classes.
Do I ever get distracted to the point where I miss what is going on in class? Yes, but that is almost always intentional.
If I am staring at the screen intently am I paying attention to what is going on in the class at all? Yes, of course! I could be doing a myriad of things from taking notes to checking my e-mail. I know that professors hate the whole “I can multi-task” argument, but sometimes it is true.
How would I quickly summarize my experience with laptops in the classroom? It has been a process learning how to use it in a classroom setting and what classes necessitate a laptop and which ones just need a pen and paper. I’ve learned how to not get distracted and how to take notes. Most importantly though, I have learned how to use laptops to expand my learning in the classroom and that has been the toughest and most rewarding part.
Most students have not had guidance on how they can utilize their laptops beyond a FB checking device. My unscientific hypothesis is most students see laptops as a way to get out of the classroom while still being physically present, or, as a way to take notes and do other school work. Maybe students don’t realize the potential they have right at their fingertips because no one has given them the inspiration to see it any other way.