Monday, September 2, 2013
You may remember hearing about a study conducted by Professor Jeff Sovern (St. John's) on law student laptop use in which he used classroom observers to record students' surfing habits. The article generated a lot of buzz back in 2011 after he posted a preliminary draft on SSRN. The article has by now been published and is available at 51 U. Louisville L. Rev. 483 (2013).
Of course using class observers to record student surfing habits is not foolproof since those observers can make mistakes about whether what's on students' screen relates to class or not as Professor Sovern acknowledges. Student self-reporting of their own surfing habits is even less reliable. The only way to know for sure what students are doing on their laptops during class, if you're so inclined to find out, is to use spyware to track their activities.