September 3, 2008

Solitaire in the Classroom?

It is common in many classes for students to take notes straight onto their laptop while an instructor makes their presentation or lectures. Some students find it easier to type their notes rather than using a notebook and handwriting their notes.

While there are many students who are using their laptop to type their notes there are many students who are doing any number of other activities on their laptop. Some students are surfing the Internet, playing an online game, leaving a message on Facebook, and adjusting the lineup for their fantasy sports team.

Some instructors don't mind a student having a laptop in class. However, there are also instructors who treat laptops in their classes the way they treat a cellphone in class - they simply don't want to see it! Ian Ayres, a professor at Yale Law School, wrote an editorial for The New York Times about some of the frustration some instructors must deal with when students are using their laptops in class. He provides interesting thoughts about the University of Chicago Law School's announcement that there will be no more surfing in classrooms at the law school.

Ayres provides some thoughts on how effective wireless connections in classrooms can be, and how distracting wireless Internet can be for other students. He also presents a question that some students have argued - he has heard some students say that there's a "positive externality" to net surfing students, which is that instructors will be motivated to teach differently if they're forced to compete for the attention of students.

Read what Ayres had to say and what other people in higher education have been blogging.

Ayres editorial:

"Why Solitaire (Might) Make Professors Better" (from The Chronicle of Higher Education):

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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