March 17, 2011
Debunking Myths for Banning Laptops from the Law School Classroom
In Let Them Use Laptops: Debunking the Assumptions Underlying the Debate Over Laptops in the Classroom [SSRN] (Oklahoma City University Law Review, forthcoming), Temple law prof Kristen E. Murray writes:
What has troubled me about the debate is that both sides consistently make arguments based on untested assumptions about how students are using their laptops. The debate has also been uninformed because it often fails to take account of existing knowledge about today’s law student learners; there has been little discussion of the issue in the context of the effect of laptops on student learning.
Myth #1: Students Use Laptops to Take Transcript-Style Notes
Myth #2: Laptops in Class Lead to Decreased Class Participation and Engagement
Myth #3: Laptops Primarily Provide Law Students with Opportunities for Distraction
Myth #4: Because They Are Digital Natives, Law Students Make Informed Choices About Laptops and Learning
Myth #5: Law Professors Have Developed Sufficient Standards for Measuring the Results of Law School Laptop Bans
Murray concludes that "to ban [laptops] completely from a lecture hall is to deny students a powerful learning tool—one that many students already use to enhance their learning."
Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog. [JH]
This is a great article if you want to assess the impact of laptops from an academic perspective and make assumptions about assumptions, etc. Unfortunately, it is unrealistic and flawed. I have taught for ten years. I have discussed laptops with my students, and personally witnessed their impact on the class atmosphere. In my evidence class, students watched baseball games on their computers, exchanged text messages and played online video games. Perhaps I am boring. Or, perhaps these students not only distracted others with their entertainment and completely missed what was being discussed in class. To suggest that this does not undermine the learning process is naive and irresponsible. Laptop computers are a big problem, and they should be dealt with responsibly by the law schools.
Posted by: Tim Edwards | Oct 7, 2011 3:58:02 PM