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Professors Banning Laptops May Legit Be Causing Problems For Gen Z Students Beyond Just Inconveniencing Them

Visitors walking into a lecture class at many US universities are in for a shock. Expecting to see hundreds of laptops open and hands flying over the keys, visitors instead see hundreds of notebooks and frustrated students. Banned laptops from classrooms is a problem that thousands of college students face, and schools are turning a blind eye. While traditional research shows that handwritten notes often leads to better absorption of information, the technology generation says otherwise.

Christopher Wojick, a 21-year-old junior studying landscape architecture at the University of Connecticut, told The Wall Street Journal that in certain classes, handwriting slows him down.

“That class was ridiculously hard to take notes in,” said Wojick, in reference to his sociology professor’s tendency to speed through information. “I was thinking, ‘Hmm. Do I have a disability?’ I was very close to making something up.”

And Wojick isn’t the only one. Many of the students interviewed for the WSJ article said that handwriting their notes led to more stress and what they believe to be worse grades.

Since many of these students grew up with technology, handwriting isn’t necessarily a natural skill. Many of the students struggled with writing their notes clearly, keeping up with the speed of the lecture (like Wojick), and even hand cramps – making learning painful and uncomfortable.

Still, professors aren’t sympathetic. Carol Holstead, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas said that she was, “tired of seeing them out there on their laptops.” Professor Holstead claims that her students were not paying attention in lectures.

But the students’ cases for laptops continues to build. With comfort and familiarity already stacked against professors, students are also shedding light on another issue with professors banning laptops from the classroom.

For those students with a disability, laptops provide comfort and a way to blend in with the crowd. Sarah Singer, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina told Huffington Post that with a laptop ban, she felt her disability was outed. Singer uses a laptop to ease pressure on her arthritic wrists.

Accommodations or not, it’s clear that many Gen Z students learn better on laptops – or at least they think they do. And being judged by a generation that had different experiences with technology just doesn’t seem fair. Until professors change their minds, it looks like students will keep fighting for what they think is right.

Arielle Kimbarovsky is a writer, artist, and recent Broadway fan studying advertising at Boston University. When she's not writing an article, you can find Arielle drinking too much coffee or taking on casual projects like sending cameras into space.
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