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Laptops for everyone



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A disturbing movement among professors nationwide is brewing, with potentially catastrophic ?consequences.

Some unfortunate college students have already been struck. You might be next.

We’re talking, of course, about professorial proposals to ban the use of laptops in classrooms.

Members of the Indiana Daily Student Editorial Board would like to think of ourselves as fairly good students, maybe even teacher’s pets. Yet, in the face of such tyranny, we cannot abide.

Many of us grew up with computers. Our smartphones are a natural extension of ourselves, our laptops extensions of our smartphones.

These are the technologies that helped us learn to read, to do simple multiplication and division, to type and to never take a covered wagon anywhere, especially to ?Oregon.

Carrying these devices to class, and using them, just seems normal.

With professors who adorn a fast-paced lecture with PowerPoints that read like novels, they’re necessary. Sometimes even our typing can’t keep up.

Laptops can be valuable additions to classroom learning. With Google at our fingertips, misheard phrases and indecipherable theories are quickly clarified.

Questions about a specific name or date are answered. Unfamiliar words are easily defined and translated. Professors’ confusion about Mike WiLL Made-It is well-attended to.

Not all laptop use is benign. After all, there are Twitter jokes to read, Facebook statuses to like and subreddits to browse.

Professors take breaths, shuffle through note cards or are a little boring, giving us just enough incentive to tap out for a minute or two.

Yes, this behavior is rude, but there’s no guarantee that removing laptops would solve the problem.

Ban technology, and students will be disrespectful all the same, doodling, working on other homework, quietly chatting with a neighbor, loudly chatting with a neighbor. They fail to show up, again.

In our best moments, students will use our laptops to engage with the lecture. In our worst, we’ll use them to zone out, just as we would do with pens and paper, slate or nothing but ourselves.

A classroom ban simply delays the inevitable confrontation between teachers and tech.

It is difficult to imagine a future classroom without technology. Already students use tablets and e-readers in place of printed readings or books.

Wearable technology like smart watches and Google Glass are gaining popularity. More and more, computers are being integrated into our persons.

If professors can’t deal with a wall of screens, how are they going to deal with technology they can barely see?

Instead of banning laptops, professors should try to find ways to accommodate their usage. Lower participation grades to remind laptop abusers they’re only hurting themselves.

Ensure that your PowerPoints are made with best practices in mind. Reward whoever can write the best Tweet about integrals.

We live our lives chained to technology. We might as well figure out how to learn that way, too.

This process will be hard. It will be frustrating. But it will be worth taking the first steps now so professors aren’t blindsided by the proliferation of Google Eye, or the SmartBrain or whatever piece of invisible technology takes over.

In the meantime, professors, take comfort. IU Secure will inexplicably stop working any second.

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