Writing Studies I
November 9th, 2018
Laptops, What is it Good For?
The first computer was invented in the 1930s which were undeniably enormous. It would fill up the entire room and weighed about 50 tons. The first laptop, however, wasn’t invented till 1980. Nowadays we see the various amount of different types of technology ranging from touchscreen phones, tablets, laptops thinner than paper, even laptops that turn into tablets. The reason for all these inventions is because of the constant increase in demand. Most people tend to rely on their devices to call, text, or video chat with each other in order to communicate. This stretches out beyond social life too, as we see computer labs in elementary schools and all over offices. We’ve been taught how to use technology since the beginning of our educational lives and will continue to utilize them in the future. Since laptops bring many benefits such as convenience, connection, and efficiency, they should not be banned in classrooms but rather embraced in educational settings.
Professors such as Susan Dynarski claim that “Laptops distract from learning” and should be banned in classrooms. Her students are being robbed of an opportunity of convenience when, in reality, distractions are going to happen regardless of whether or not students use laptops. Of course, laptops can distract people from learning but people also distract people from learning. Passing notes, doodling on the side of your notes, dozing off or daydreaming, are all examples of distractions that have existed before the invention of laptops. When has there ever been a lecture where everyone was 100% attentive? Distractions have always been an obstacle for students because chances are those students would rather be doing something else. By removing a tool that could potentially make their learning experience easier is like telling someone to chill out when they’re getting angry. The good intentions are there but it’s only going to annoy them and doesn’t benefit anyone in the end.
Most schools have built computer labs for their students and teach them how to type, as it is a large portion of what’s in store in the future. For example, teachers usually require their students to type their essays or research papers as opposed to handwriting it. However, it is worth mentioning that laptops, unlike computer labs, are not funded by the school meaning that not everyone can afford one. Unfortunately, there isn’t much control over that problem because everyone has different economic statuses. In college, laptops become portable computer labs for those who do have access to them. Since they so conveniently fit into our backpacks there should not be a place where they aren’t allowed. Students have the option to utilize their laptops not only to type up papers like this one but to take notes during class or quickly google a term that wasn’t fully understood. Yet professors like Dynarski want to take that away because they’re “distractions”. An article from Georgia Tech, written by Lauren Margulieux, explains how banning laptops wouldn’t be the solution to this debate, “Laptops are tools, and many of the problems with laptops come down to students misusing them. Laptops can be enablers for problematic learning techniques, but banning laptops isn’t the solution. Instead of shunning laptops, we should help students develop strategies to deal with those problems, not sweep them back under the rug.” Students can’t practice using laptops in the intended manner if they aren’t given the opportunity in the first place.
Laptops have the ability to bring a class closer through an online front. In a forum written by the HASTAC scholar program, they mention how they connect instructors with their students, “Instructors are innovating teaching methods by communicating with students online, publishing course materials publicly, and asking their students to collectively post and comment on each other’s work.” Through the utilization of online publishing and laptops, students can now easily read and interact with their fellow classmates inside and outside the classroom. Imagine if we were limited to pen and paper for everything, that would be highly inefficient when it comes to peer reviews and pose many obstacles. Obstacles that could include, unreadable handwriting, sloppy revisions, and difficulty editing. Bottom line is that laptops are the solution to old-school problems like note taking and it brings on content accessibility.
The importance of connecting everyone together onto the same page is that we all have different views. Every voice needs to be heard for the greater and collective community of the classroom. Cathy Davidson, a co-founder of HASTAC, has a list of ways to utilize laptops within the classroom setting, and number six on her list intrigues me the most. She essentially has the students either completely turn off all electronics for ninety seconds or leave everything on for ninety seconds and the results are varied. “What students discover is how, even in the relatively ‘uniform’ situation of all being in a classroom together, there is tremendous variation in what we think about, what we feel, what we sense, and how we feel” (Davidson). This exercise demonstrates the diversity between each person. Being thrown into a class with other minds with different backgrounds and ways of thinking, it’s important to understand each other.
Having laptops within the work setting, more specifically classrooms, will bring additional benefits to the students if used correctly. It’s important to learn and develop skills about how to effectively utilize technology for work-related material. From there students can use laptops to their utmost advantage such as efficient note taking and editing, utilizing the internet to search up terms during lectures, and connecting with one another on a digital platform. All these skills will be carried out beyond our educational careers and into the real workplace. Chances are technology will be weaved into future jobs, so having experience and being familiar with how to handle technology will definitely give us an upper hand.
Photo Creds: Mac, Freelancer