- More than half of students at least sometimes bring a laptop to class.
- The number of questions asked in class increases when students can ask questions via their laptops.
- Most students report that laptops, their own and those of other students, are sometimes a distraction in class.
- 35% of the students report that when they have their laptops available, they spend at least 10 minutes per class period using e-mail and social networking sites.
an interactive suite of web-based tools designed to allow questioning practices in lecture that actively engage students and go beyond the multiple choice format typically supported by classroom response systems (clickers). Additional functions include the ability for students to take notes and make drawings on PowerPoint slides, rate their understanding of each slide, pose questions anonymously during the lecture, and review the recorded lecture after class.Sounds cool, to say the least.
But what caught my eye were some suggestions that go beyond thinking about student laptop use as a yes/no question. In other words, could we think about this question as a matter of how or when students use their laptops rather than if they can? One idea from the article along these lines is to establish a laptop-free zone for those who wish to avoid this distraction. More generally, I suspect that rather than saying yes or no to laptops in the classroom, we should instead remember that, like any technology, laptops are tools that can be used for well or ill. The task is to figure how to separate the two and guide our students to use their laptops in learning-conducive ways. After all, it seems pretty clear that laptops
function best when they fulfill a clear instructional goal and when they are used in specific ways that support student learning. And while some faculty may decide either to ban such devices or to adopt programs such as LectureTools, there are intermediate steps that can take advantage of the potential power of laptops while minimizing their distracting effects.