A University of Memphis professor had the blog world talking Wednesday after the Associated Press reported that she banned laptops from her lectures. Her class, made up of first-year law students, was apparently up in arms over the announcement, passing around a petition and even filing a complaint with the American Bar Association, which was quickly dismissed.
The professor says the computers cause a distraction and lead students to concentrate on transcribing her lectures word-for-word, rather than thinking about what she's saying. The university says the decision is up to the professor, but it raises an interesting question. Should students be allowed to take notes in whatever form they find most useful to them? We're now faced with a generation of college and graduate students who have been raised with computers playing an integral role in their academic lives. Is it fair to take the devices away and force those students to use a method of note-taking that some of them have potentially never used?
Blog community response:
"I'm not particularly on the side of the professor here, but I can definitely see her point of view -- if your students are just little typing automatons, they may be getting down the facts, but that's not the same thing as learning."
--By The Way...
"...Professors who do things like ban laptops seem to have a surprisingly thin grasp of the contexts of learning. When students?? using laptops makes professors uncomfortable it??s probably because it conflicts with their cultural conception of classroom behavior. A student should sit with a pen and paper, maybe a book, and pay attention to the front of the room, just like they did when they were students."
"I Wouldn't Call Her a Luddite. I'd call her a free thinker. We need more of them in the world."
--eno2001 on Slashdot
"I literally just walked out of hosting a panel of college students who were talking about how they consume news. One of them got a laugh when he said that when he's in a big lecture hall, he'll sit in the back with his laptop open and read news Web sites while the professor drones on. And then I came back to my desk and saw this debate on Slashdot about a story in our paper. The story says that students are outraged that a professor at the University of Memphis has banned laptops from her class. The students say they need their laptops to type notes. But I wonder if that's really why they're upset."
--USA Today's Kevin Maney
"I'm a Graduate Student and I take my Powerbook to all classes. I pay for University and I'll be damned if a Professor will tell me how I'm going to learn and if I can/can't take my laptop to the class I am paying for."
--Wyatt Earp on Slashdot