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Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Focus Friday: Do laptops diminish or add to learning?

With technology being ever-present in our lives, some students are moving toward taking their notes on a computer instead of paper.

However, some professors reject the presence of laptops in their classrooms, arguing that they can serve as a distraction rather than a learning device.

Should professors have the right to tell students what they can take notes on?

Assistant opinion editor Thomas Dwyer

Professors should not have the final say in what students can or can’t use to take notes. With a few rare exceptions, every person in a college course is an adult who is perfectly capable of taking care of themselves.

That means students have the right to pick between taking notes electronically or the old-fashioned way. However, I think it would not be out of line for professors to provide incentives for students to take notes in a manner that they prefer.

For example, if a professor believes that computer notes diminish testing grades in some manner or another, a student who takes notes in a notebook can present it to the professor on the day of a test for extra credit. If not that then a system similar in nature.

Opinion columnist Jorden Smith

A professor should have the right to disallow the use of laptops during their class. It’s their class, and they most likely have a certain way they want it to function.

If you’re not a fan of the rules that the professor makes, you are more than capable of finding the same class taught by a different professor.

Not only do laptops add the noise during lectures or discussions, they are an easy way to nonchalantly get on the internet. I’ve seen many students on the internet during class, which distracts the surrounding students.

The bottom line is that professors are in charge of their classrooms, so they should be able to dictate whether electronic devices can be used.

Opinion columnist Marialuisa Rincon

Without exception, I prefer taking notes on my laptop. There are many reasons why it’s a better idea than taking notes in a notebook.

I type faster than I write. Entertainment? Buzzfeed, it’s the 21st century. Also, I don’t like my penmanship.

I do, however, think professors have a right to decide what goes on in their classrooms. For example, this semester I’m taking a small literature class. It only has 10 or 15 people in it — quite intimate — and we’re reading modernist classics.

In a discussion class like that, where everyone’s engagement is needed, it makes sense that laptops aren’t allowed.

Opinion columnist John Brucato

Professors need to yield to the fact that we live in a digital age.  Each student learns differently — some students prefer to take notes via laptop versus pen and paper.

If the professor provides PowerPoints, some like to take notes in the “Notes” section below each slide.  If the student chooses to browse the internet instead of paying attention, it is their own loss for not making the most of their tuition money.

Some argue that this may serve as a distraction to other students. True. There is no way to make every student happy, however, the students pay to go to the university to learn.

It is ultimately up to them, not the professors, to decide how they learn best.


Opinion editor Frank Campos

I think the answer to the question is up to the professor. I do much better, and often times am more engaged, when I have to take hand-written notes.

Yes, it is much more boring, but in the end it’s worth it to not get lost online and lose big chunks of the lecture because of boredom.

I will definitely use a laptop, if allowed, but I am relieved when I don’t have to wrestle with myself throughout the class because there are so many things to do online. Students see them all the time in classes where laptops are allowed: There is the “World of Warcraft” player, Amazon shoppers and, of course, social media dwellers.

I think it would be best if we just remove laptops altogether from the classroom to give students a better chance at success.

“Focus Friday” contributors can be reached at [email protected]

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