More than a year ago, the Washington Post reported that colleges and universities were banning laptops from their classrooms in an article titled “Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls”. This is an interesting notion as the popularity of new online degree options like Roberts Wesleyan College’s Master of Science in Strategic Leadership program grow exponentially. How can some institutions (not RWC, of course) be so polarized yet still appeal to the students who are now products of the technology?
The answer is to accept the fact that laptops, the student’s attention span, and willingness to participate, are entirely up to the student. If participation is a requirement of the class and it is soundly based in classroom discussion, the individual’s grades will reflect their distractions from their laptop and render them unable to participate with meaningful contributions. Banning of any technology sends the wrong message about the willingness of the instructor, and subsequently, the institution, to advance and offer the most up-to-date and pertinent information to their students. Certainly, students have a different style of learning, communication, and willingness to maintain undivided attention than they did ten years ago, but this is not an indication of diminished quality, rather a sign for educators to evolve their styles to interact with their audience.