Computers: A Benefit Or Distraction?

Laptops and tablets are increasingly present in academic classrooms. Over the last few decades, most students are carrying a laptop in replacement of traditional books.

In recent years, the effectiveness of using electronic devices in the classroom are in question. On one hand they are as helpful tools; on the other side, they seem to create more problems than solutions. For this reason, many professors have banned laptops in their classrooms.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Teaching found that 60 percent of the students who were not allowed to use a computer believed using a notebook kept them engaged.

In contrast, 75 percent of students whose classes did allow computers felt that they spent more time on non-learning activities. Likewise, the use of laptops by classmates was indicated as the biggest distraction for 46 percent of the students.

Scientific evidence has also revealed handwritten notes better help a person retain information and reinforce memory since one must understand the teacher, process the information, and then condense it into an annotation. Conversely, when students transcribe lectures directly into a virtual text document, this process is shortened.

Although laptops allow students to transcribe more efficiently, the process does not require the same, necessary mental activity from them. As a result, the teaching and learning processes suffer.

Undoubtedly, the computer is one of the new and improved learning tools in a variety of academic settings. Nevertheless, students must first learn how to use the devices in the classroom responsibly; in turn, teachers must set and enforce boundaries regarding the use of technology.

There have been many times where I saw colleagues getting information through their laptops. I also saw students wasting time in class playing games, shopping, checking emails, and even watching movies. I feel this has contributed to the poor rapport students have with their professors, which ultimately affects students’ learnings.

“I believe that individuals who are not disciplined are more inclined to use technology in a way that hinders them,” said Juscelucio Da Silva Jr., an attorney and Monmouth alum.

He continued, “My advice to those who are inclined to use their computers during class is to sit in the front of the where there are no distractions and turn your computer on airplane mode.”

Juscelucio favors technology; he used a computer whenever possible while he was in college. To him it was easier to type notes verbatim and not have to focus on remembering the last words the professor said. “I type a lot faster and can read what I wrote when I’m typing. When I write fast, my writing becomes illegible, and my entire note section goes to waste.”

Nonetheless, I see a stronger case to return to appreciating the old paper notebook. As for the “necessity” of having a computer in the classroom, I can autonomously say that it is a fallacy. This is the last article I am writing as I am proudly graduating in a week, and yes, without ever having owned a laptop.