Finally – someone gets “it” on laptops, classrooms, and law schools

SSRN Author Page for Jana R. McCreary

I confine my commentary about the state of academic technology (technology implemented in the pursuit of bettering teaching and learning, as compared to technology as an enabler or productivity and getting work done) and law schools to this blog and a select few colleagues here.  I had a few posts in the past about this article or that, which were lost when my blog database imploded.

But, finally, here is an article that looks at laptops in a much more even-keeled light, based on research and ethnographic observation rather than just opinions and presumptions.

The basic point is that while students do surf the web and that most of that surfing is not class-related, they also benefit greatly from the enhanced note-taking capabilities that laptops offer.  And the benefits largely outweight the disadvantages.  At the same time, the author makes an extremely reasonable suggest of a “laptop-free” zone in each room, so that those who prefer to take notes by hand are not bothered by those furiously typing away.

I have been arguing the point, very subtly, that it’s about how a laptop is used, not whether one is used or not, that is the issue.  And that indeed applications such as OneNote or NoteBook make a real difference in how students take notes.  And, with those tools, it becomes easier to manage a classroom full of students, many of whom do jump out to surf the web now and then.

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