Interesting post by Eoin O’Dell of TCD law school on an issue that vexes an increasing number of university teachers.
I’ve been on both sides of these laptops, and I’m going to break ranks and admit something to those students reading this blog: from the front of the class, I can often tell when someone is concentrating on the screen for reasons other than the class. For example, it’s pretty obvious if you’re furiously typing away while everyone else is doing nothing at all, studiously failing to answer a question I’ve just posed – gotcha! you’re drafting an email or updating a profile, aren’t you? Now, this is an extreme example, but there are lots of obvious examples short of that, and even if I don’t notice every non-classroom related usage, I do notice a lot of them. And in my class, you run the risk of having a few questions directed specifically to you just when you’re deepest into your online distraction. But I don’t see myself going any further and seeking to turn off the wifi or even ban the laptops. I think that the benefits of technology far, far outweigh the detriments. And, in any event, people who are bored in class will daydream even if they don’t surf.