No matter what side you fall on, the argument is a difficult one to ignore: should laptops be banned in college classrooms? As we shall see, laptops in an academic setting can be both a blessing and a curse. Whether you see them as an outright distraction or a necessary evil, read on.
Argument 1: Laptops are a Distraction
Many opponents of laptops in college classrooms argue that they are an outright distraction that unnecessarily detracts from time that could be better spent interacting with the professor, text, or some other aspect of the curriculum. These people think that students are often up to no good, often viewing them as too OCD to maintain simultaneous concentration on the course material and whatever is on their screen. However, what this argument misses is the fact that laptops can be used to store pertinent information related to the course that can be recalled multiple times throughout the day, including when the student is in class.
Argument 2: Laptops Create Opportunity for Delinquency
Some people argue that having laptops in class makes many students more vulnerable to cyber bullying, online exploitation, and other internet-related delinquencies that are best kept as far away from an academic setting as possible. Rather than seeing laptops as a shiny object detracting from the greater goal of synthesizing the course material, this view postulates them as an outright menace to the well-being of the entire student body, and to the structure of the classroom itself. While this view may seem a little extreme to some of us, it is hard to acknowledge that having a laptop in class does not open up the conditions of possibility for one of the aforementioned scenarios.
Argument 3: Laptops are a Nexus of Resources
From UCLA to Sarah Lawrence College, many proponents of having laptops in class argue that they are a necessary evil. While they subtly acknowledge the view that laptops could potentially detract from learning, they make the case that this potential is outweighed by the fact that students can store so many course materials, including readings, essays, and even documents on continuing their education (like the forms they saved in order to learn more about USC’s online mpa degree) on their laptop for easy access and transport.
Argument 4: The Evidence is Divided
Numerous studies have yielded different results, with some showing that students retain more information with laptops in the classroom while others indicate that students are more prone to distraction in their presence. Overall, this is likely because there are extenuating factors other than the laptop, which gets to the heart of the matter: maybe the problem is how the laptop is used rather than whether it is used at all.