I'm always happy to help rationalize. :)As I indicated on the other blog, I did this last semester; I was so pleased with it, I'm doing it again.
A classmate and I were discussing this topic tonight. This semester I decided to try taking notes on my laptop. I felt that I would be able to type faster than I write and be able to keep up with the lecture more easily. However, I noticed that I had trouble remembering the lecture despite only typing notes. I decided to switch back to good old paper and pen. The ban seems like a good measure. In one of my classes last semester I noticed my classmates’ tendency to check emails and MySpace as a lecture was in progress, which is just as annoying as people texting in class.
My professor has also banned any technological device. You read the text and come prepared to defend a position and contribute to the exploration of whatever topic. When students actually read the text, this makes for the best classroom environment I have ever been a part of.
I think this is the right thing to do. Laptops are just a distraction. I see them used mainly for web surfing/email, and that's among grad students. This is an annoying distraction for everyone, and I imagine it's 10 times worse with internet-addicted undergrads. The rationalization that laptops help take better notes is, in my experience, spurious. They allow you to write more, sure, but we all know that more is rarely better when it comes to the effective expression of ideas. Taking notes longhand forces students to mentally process and distill information *before* setting it down, instead of mindlessly transcribing. Notes produced in this way are also generally more useful, both because they tend to be more succinct and better organized, and because you actually remember what you wrote down! At least, such is my experience -- and I say this as someone who finds writing longhand to be almost excruciatingly laborious.
Clayton, I had a laptop ban for a while, but got tired of the friction about it. That article looks really useful. Maybe I'll bring back the ban and make people read the article!
I agree with everyone here, but would just like to add that the sound of someone banging on their keyboard is also very distracting.
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