Laptops not the cause of students zoning out

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Frustrated profs consider laptop ban”
Mar. 5, 2008

To the editor:
I understand some professors and students are frustrated by the people who sit in class to watch movies and goof off when they should be listening to the professor and writing notes, and I agree: it’s foolish to do that.

If you’re not going to pay attention, there really is no point in showing up. However, laptops are not the core of the problem. They’re simply an outlet for students to not pay attention in class, which is hardly a new phenomenon.

In the days before laptops were prevalent, people would sit in class and doodle, stare off into space, read a MAD magazine or a comic book craftily hidden in their open textbook or find other ways to not pay attention.

If a professor is dry, monotone and uninteresting, it is difficult to pay attention to him or her, whether or not you have a laptop. It would be interesting to find out which professors are complaining about laptops and how many of their students consider them boring.

While I agree it is ridiculous to come to class just to watch a movie or chat the whole time, I disagree with banning laptops. Besides, most of the people I have seen watching movies in class were in first year, and I don’t usually see them around.
"Bradley S. Edwards
Classics III

To the editor:
As a professor at King’s University College, I read with some interest the agitation on the part of some faculty over student use and/or misuse of laptops in classes. I have been teaching full-time in universities for 30 years, and have encountered many vexing issues, but for me this is not one of them.

Last fall, I initially felt annoyed that some students were using their laptops for all manner of engagement other than typing my harangues. Pondering why I felt annoyed, I concluded that students today are capable of doing many things at the same time, especially if it involves anything electronic.

They multitask, and why should I be annoyed at a skill they have that I don’t? As well, with so many classes consisting of only PowerPoint presentations, it’s no surprise students experience brain fade with all the useless data drizzle and choose to be otherwise occupied.

Best of all, I concluded when they’re on Facebook or some other site, at least they don’t talk as much. I am no longer annoyed.
"Allan Irving
Professor
School of Social Work


King’s University College

To the editor:
As a King’s student, I find myself using my laptop for academic purposes heavily in classes. I enjoy the freedom of using the wireless network, which was just put into classrooms this year. It allows students to broaden their knowledge outside of the classroom through research and adds unique discussions for topics in class.

It is the students themselves who are responsible for their own behaviour while using their laptops, not the professors. It will be the students, by their own will, improving or decreasing their grade based on their laptop use in class.

To suggest that laptops may be banned at King’s or at Western would be detrimental to students. Even simply turning off wireless Internet access, after the money was put forth to install it, is pointless.

A solution? Profs can be more vigilant by finding students who are not using their computers academically and proposing consequences in the classroom.

Even still, students are paying for the education, not their professors. While the Richard Ivey School of Business has a unique system for wireless usage, would it be feasible to have that type of control at King’s and Western?

That decision should be left to the students and faculty councils. If people are playing Mortal Kombat in class, let them " it’s their education at risk.
"Darren Lee
Political Science/Social Justice IV

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