Many professors in college allow their students to use computers to take notes during class. However, we all know that one class where the professor declares their classroom a “tech-free” space and insists all students take notes by hand.
I’ve even had teachers go as far as counting students absent for using a computer.
At this point in our education, we as students are paying to be in class. If a student is going to sit on their computer and play games or shop or use it to distract themselves in any way, that is their own loss.
For the rest of us that are paying attention, technology should not be seen as an obstacle to learning. In fact, technology in the classroom has a lot of benefits.
To start, every student learns differently. This isn’t a new scientific breakthrough, and it isn’t the first time someone has argued for a change in teaching styles, but it is still important to discuss.
For me personally, my ADHD has always caused me to struggle with handwritten notes. Now, not every person with ADHD shares this experience and it all comes back to how we learn. When I attempt to take handwritten notes, I am often more focused on what I am writing than what the professor is saying. It is mindless scribbling. With computer notes, I can type without thinking as much, so I am far more engaged with what is being said in the class.
Many professors who demand a tech-free classroom bring up the research that proves handwritten notes are better for learning. Once again, this pushes aside students who learn differently and at different paces.
In fact, there are very few studies actually conducted on this matter and none of them have come up with the same results. To sum up the studies, the researchers were far more focused on how students learn instead of what kind of notes should be taken.
A lot of students take notes differently for different subjects, too. Chemistry or biology might be a lot easier with handwritten notes that allow diagrams and equations to be written with ease, whereas history and English classes might be easier to type.
The biggest issue I have with technology-free classrooms is the blatant disregard for an ever-changing world. Technology is our future and will most likely play a major part in our future careers. As a journalism major, I use my computer for everything: research, writing articles, taking interview notes and more.
I have never gone into an interview with a potential story subject and not had my computer or at least my phone with me. I use it for voice recordings or to exchange contact information. I take extensive notes in a document that is then clear and organized when I go back to write the story. Technology is a massive part of the journalism workplace.
Yet I have had multiple journalism courses that have banned computers from the classroom.
Technology is new to our everyday world and it is most likely a hard adjustment for older generations that weren’t born with a phone in their hands like we were. So yes, adjusting to the idea of computers and phones in a learning environment is difficult and I give them credit for that. But it is the future.
Technology is only growing and will continue to intertwine itself into many of the workforces we see now. It shouldn’t be looked at as a crutch, but rather an asset we can use to our advantage.
Taking it away completely only harms the students. Some people learn better with a computer in front of them. Using computers increases technology efficiency and builds skills that will later help them in their careers and life.
By giving students access to these things, technology can be seen as a tool, and students deserve to have access to it whether the professor likes it or not.
Gentry Keener (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and political science.