MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A University of Memphis law professor has banned laptop computers from her classroom and her students are passing a petition against it.
Professor June Entman says her main concern is that students are so busy keyboarding they can’t think and analyze what she’s telling them.
Students have begun collecting signatures on petitions and tried unsuccessfully to file a complaint with the American Bar Association.
Student Cory Winsett says if he must continue without his laptop, he’ll transfer to another school. Winsett says he won’t be able to keep up if he has to rely on hand-written notes, which he says are incomplete and less organized.
Globe and Mail Technology, March 29, 2006
I know how she feels.. It’s a dispiriting thing to be banging away up there with a hot argument or some controversial notion designed to hook the gallery only to look out on a sea of bent heads and flying fingers busily recording every syllable as though that were the point. That’s when you know that the profession is fully staffed with literalists and the world will surely end.
Mind you, ’twas ever thus, whether the fingers were working keyboards or pushing pens. Time and again I would tell students to put down their pens, look at me, and listen to what I was saying — that we were going to think about it, discuss it, and then, maybe, have something to record for posterity the exam. There was always a Cory Winsett or six, who just could not do that, who were incapable of being in the awful moment.
Of course, laptop tapping might just be email, or text messaging, or solitaire, in which case it’s a little different from the old days, when reading the newspaper in class was a dead giveaway.
All in all, the best solution is to refuse to hold forth in class, saving your information/data/wisdom for print, preferably online, and to use the precious classtime to make students work at solving problems together — that is, things that can’t be done online or from a book.
I hope Professor Entman has tenure.