Independent thinkers use laptops meaningfully

Technology in a classroom should help students interact with course material and learn through discovery.


Anastasia Waltschew/ THE CHIMES

Justin Yun, Writer

It is understandable why professors have been banning laptops from the lecture hall. The internet has provided students with a cornucopia of electronic distractions such as surfing the web or using social media during a lecture. The prevailing question on whether or not professors should allow laptops or electronic devices inside the classroom has been debated by both sides on campuses nationwide. Laptops should only be allowed in the classroom if it cultivates interaction and participation on behalf of the students. Students should ultimately strive to be independent thinkers who learn through discovery.

Too many “dank memes”

An article by the Los Angeles Times reports how classrooms that ban electronic devices have made the learning experience more enriching and distraction free. The article notes how USC professors have agreed “that electronic equipment, even just for note taking, causes students to mentally disconnect from lectures and distracts them from class discussions.” It is true. I constantly see my fellow peers use their phones and laptops to use Facebook or go internet shopping. There are too many “dank memes” and cat videos to not get distracted during a lecture. Laptops should obviously be restricted from seminar-based classes or settings where a laptop is not needed.

Giselle Suazo from The Daily Texan from the University of Texas at Austin seems to have a different opinion on the use of laptops in the classroom. The author notes students should act like adults and feel free to use their technology. It is a “sink or swim” mentality. According to Suazo, “College students are old enough to vote, go to war, work jobs that help with tuition and decide for themselves if they want to pay attention in class — and face the consequences if they choose not to.” James M. Lang also writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education  how the strategic use of laptops in the classroom can increase transparency and interaction with students.

Thinking independently

Technology will continue to play an incredibly important role both in higher education and the job market, but I still have mixed feelings on both sides of the debate. Technology, if it is used properly, should allow students to interact with the course material and think independently. We live in the age of information. Students learn best when they are not only intrigued by the material, but they become independent thinkers who learn through discovery. This is the opinion of Noam Chomsky, a renowned linguist and retired professor who taught at MIT for several decades. Chomsky states in an interview that the best way for students to learn is through discovery.

Students are limiting themselves when they are unwilling to become independent thinkers. Technology can inhibit or engender the learning process. Only the student can decide the way they interact with the world around them, laptop or not.

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