Laptops should not be banned from the classroom

It’s the 21st century, professors.

But for some educators on campus who have banned the use of laptops in class, when it comes to note taking, it might as well be the 15th.

At a university where students are constantly encouraged to think globally, and where millions of dollars have been devoted to modernizing infrastructure in an effort to keep students on the technological cutting edge, it’s absurd to require students to limit the reach of their resources.

There is no doubt that laptops can be distracting to students, not to mention to their classmates. No one needs to see Facebook pictures from Saturday night’s wild ’80s party during a lecture on Middle Eastern politics. The same goes for checking e-mail and news.

However, just because a few students are dumping toxic waste in the high-tech stream doesn’t mean all of them should be banned from fishing in it. That is to say, let responsible students take notes any way they want.

It’s a shame that a professor can’t simply press a button to turn off Internet access during his or her class; that would solve the problem immediately. But until that day comes professors should look into better alternatives.

Surely there is a way for professors to monitor their students to make sure they are using their computers without being a distraction. A stern warning on the first day that the professor will remove pesky students from class or dock their grades would likely send a message to students that they better not waste anyone’s time. Or, professors could ban students from using laptops after the first offense, as Rebecca Jordan, a management lecturer, said she does.

Whatever policy professors choose to enforce, they should make sure not to impair students’ abilities to learn in a manner that best suits them. Our educators won’t be giving in, but merely catching up.

Editor-in-chief Max Landman for the editorial board.