This article, “The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom”, written by Dan Rockmore for The New Yorker, has been getting considerable airtime on social media this week. As a classroom instructor I can certainly attest to the power of technology to distract and interfere with student learning. But I had three issues with the “case” being made.
|Scooped by Sharrock|
excerpt: "1. Because the headline focuses on banning laptops from the classroom, it’s easy to miss this very important point made in the article:
These examples [of how learning is negatively affected by the presence of technology] can be seen as the progeny of an ill-conceived union of twenty-first-century tools (computers, tablets, smartphones) with nineteenth-century modalities (lectures). I’m not discussing the “flipped classroom,” wherein lectures are accessed outside of class on digital devices and the classroom is used as a discussion and problem-solving forum. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other forms of online learning can release learning from the restrictions of time, space, and, to some degree, money. Nor am I surveying the wide range of software and apps that are available, many of which have ably engaged new learners and engendered new and creative habits of mind. [Emphasis mine]
In other words: The real problem is not laptops per se but the unstable mixture of a certain kind of technology with a certain kind of pedagogy – namely, lecture. Indeed one of the studies quoted in the article is titled “The laptop and the lecture”. Rockmore is absolutely right to point out that there are other pedagogies for which technology is a natural fit and can serve to multiply, rather than divide, student learning.
So, question: If the problem isn’t laptops, why is it that laptops are the things to be banned? Shouldn’t there be a parallel case for banning, or at least significantly modifying, the lecture pedagogy with which laptops are clashing?"