Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The National Law Journal online reports on the recent decision by the University of Chicago Law School Dean to block classroom access to the internet. Lynne Marek states,
Saul Levmore, who is dean of the school, said he had been trying to simply persuade students not to distract themselves with the Internet during class, but turned to simply shutting off access when he found that the school's building had the capability to block wired and wireless access. "It got a lot easier when I found I had technology on my side," he said in an interview. Keeping students from surfing the Internet during class is similar to keeping them from picking up calls on their cell phones, he said. Levmore has received inquiries from about 10 other law schools interested in possibly following suit on the move, he said.
I know that some of my students surf the internet during my classes but sometimes it can be beneficial. For instance, a student might be interested enough by a case that she looks to see what happened after the court's decision, or a student might remember an interesting case similar to that discussed in class and with google can quickly call up that case. I do recognize, however, the downsides and I am aware that some students are searching sports scores or sending e-mails. As for the ban, I am not sure that it will accomplish the objective of having students more focused on their classwork. Before the internet was available in classrooms, I had students playing solitaire and other games (I swear I am not super boring) so I am not sure that blocking access to the internet will correct a lack of focus on the part of some students.