Monday, June 9, 2014

The case for banning laptops...

This morning @mcleod shared an article via Twitter, about college professors' case to ban laptops in the classroom. The article discusses the negative impact of multi-tasking on performance, the decreased value of note-taking on a laptop, and lower quiz scores from students who had a laptop vs those who used pencil and paper. The real meat of this article, quite possibly the most important sentence, is when the author, Dan Rockmore, shares the following:
 These examples can be seen as the progeny of an ill-conceived union of twenty-first-century tools (computers, tablets, smartphones) with nineteenth-century modalities (lectures).
Herein lies the problem. The problem is not that students are on Facebook and Twitter during class, the problem is not that my ability to type quickly and produce a verbatim transcript of the lecture decreases my inner-analysis of what is actually being said, the PROBLEM is your monotonous, self-indulgent, egotistical 50+ minutes of lecture. Forget that no real application of any sort of active learning is taking place, obviously the glow from my Apple is disrupting my ability to regurgitate back to you the analysis and research that you have already done for me.

Is there a place for balance? Absolutely. Is there a place for teaching good digital citizenship and a place for modeling "computer etiquette? Definitely. But there is also a place for significant improvement in higher ed in terms of understanding teaching and learning. I would imagine that you would be hard-pressed to find a student who identifies a 300+ student lecture hall with 60 minute lectures three times per week as their preferred learning environment.

I'm not naive. I realize that packed lecture halls are cost-effective, and I don't know that it's even what I'm proposing. What I do know is that my ONCE a week lecture followed by my THREE times a week small group discussion and work session (shout out to Luther College) was significantly more engaging, meaningful, and effective than any 3x/week lecture course I was required to take after I transferred.

The case for banning laptops?

Let's start making a case for looking at increasing engagement in higher ed.

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