Should Laptops be banned in Lecture Theatres?

It is an undeniable fact that the use of technology has become ingrained in our daily lives. We use mobile gadgets and the Internet in almost everything that we do, including work, relaxation, and play. There is an increase in the use of technology in many different fields, one of them being education. Different educational programs and applications have emerged to aid teachers with their lectures and facilitate student learning. In order to gain access to these online resources, tablets or laptops are needed by the students.

There is an ongoing debate regarding the use of laptops in the classroom in university lectures. Some professors firmly believe that laptops should be completely banned in the class because they are mere distractions. On the other hand, proponents of EdTech argue that laptops are powerful tools in giving students a more enriched learning experience.

For this purpose, we need to go over the pros and cons of using laptops or other mobile gadgets in class during lectures in the university setting.

The Bad: Laptops are Unnecessary Distractions

One of the most compelling arguments for those against the use of laptops in class is that their use significantly distracts the students. There have been cases where students take advantage of this technology by logging in to social media, watch YouTube videos, and play games instead of paying attention to the lecture. Even other students who are not using laptops in class can be distracted by the tapping noise made by their classmates’ keyboards or by catching a glimpse of others’ laptop monitors. Because of these things, the student’s attention is divided, thus negatively affecting how he or she processes and retains information.

A lot of lecturers further believe that laptops are unnecessary inside the classroom. They claim that the traditional pen and paper note-taking method is far more effective than just typing or recording the professor’s lecture verbatim. They claim that when students write down notes, they integrate information better by getting the gist and important points of the lessons more effectively.

The Good: Laptops are convenient learning tools

For those who believe that technology should be integrated with education, the use of laptops in the classroom has several advantages that traditional classroom settings cannot offer.

For one, students can have a quicker and more convenient way to access the class lessons. Professors can upload recorded lectures and PowerPoint files that the students can review whether in the classroom or outside the school without having to carry around lots of notebooks and books. They can also provide a partial outline of their lesson that the students can fill in during the class discussion as an alternative way of taking notes. This allows students to listen and pay more attention to what the professor is saying rather than just focusing on jotting down notes manually.

Another advantage of using laptops in class is that it is a tool for students to access different educational resources or applications that help facilitate their learning. Classroom chats and discussion boards can encourage the continuous exchange of ideas between the students and the teacher, therefore increasing the participation in class. Laptops also enable students to post their work online for real-time discussion. This peer review helps encourage and develop students’ critical thinking.

The Verdict

Educational technology opens our doors to limitless possibilities when it comes to learning. Completely banning the use of laptops in class deprives them of these opportunities and limits the students’ learning potential. Plus, prohibiting their use does not really solve the problem. Students can still be distracted even without the gadgets or laptops. In the end, it all boils down to the lecturers’ teaching techniques and classroom management styles.

Educators nowadays should realize the benefits of incorporating technology in their classrooms. The disadvantages of using laptops in class can be minimized or removed by implementing a regulatory rule regarding gadget use in the classroom. Lecturers can allow students to use their laptops for a limited amount of time during the class. They can also designate a “laptop users’ zone.” Other measures include blocking social media and other non-educational sites. Teachers can create their own rules depending on the demands and needs of their class.

The bottom line is this: teachers are not there to just relay textbook lessons. They are there to help students prepare for real life. Outside the classroom, or when the students start working, they will be exposed to technology. It is thus better for educators to train their students on how to use technology responsibly so they can use it to their advantage.

Maria Dublin
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Maria is a writer, an editor, and a law student. She plays for the Philippine national touch football team, and does a lot of travelling during the holidays.