Jan. 16, 2017
Manuela Ekowo's blog post about using laptops in class was quoted in the Washington Examiner:
College instructors often lament that laptops and other devices distract students from engaging with them, course material or other students. There may be some truth to this. Research has shown students retain more information if they jot down notes rather than type them. Other research suggests that multitasking is a lot harder than it seems. Laptops may tempt students to multitask during class, breaking their concentration. Instructors have and can use studies like these to justify why laptops shouldn't be in the classroom.
However, such arguments paint the classroom with too broad a stroke. A more accurate picture would be that laptops and other devices can be a distraction in lecture-based classrooms, not all classrooms. This is especially true for instructors who aren't using technology to keep students engaged in the lecture.
Laptop bans underestimate the many ways instruction can be enhanced with laptops and other technologies. For example, tracking student engagement through analytics and adaptive technologies, restructuring a course by flipping it, incorporating active learning techniques, or ensuring students have access to materials with open educational resources. And some disciplines couldn't be taught without a device. Imagine a computer science instructor who didn't allow students to make use of computers.
Alongside research that suggests technology is not always the best substitute for pen and paper, colleges should consider the growing evidence suggesting technology-enhanced learning environments can be beneficial.