No matter what class, what professor, or how interesting the material, there will always be students on their computers (unless prohibited in the syllabus). Laptops are great to use in class- you can follow the professor’s PowerPoint, type up notes faster than the old-fashioned handwriting without pain in the wrist, and have access to available research if necessary. However, as I sit towards the top in my large lecture classes and I get a good view of other student’s computers screen, I notice that there are some – okay a lot – of students who appear to be following the professor but are actually doing nothing close to that.
From my observation, I have seen a lot of interesting uses of laptops. Yes, students are typing up notes or following along with the PowerPoint, but there are also students shopping online for bathing suits, reblogging posts on Tumblr, doing homework from another class, filling out transfer applications, playing solitaire, doing their weekly Facebook stalk (yes, I see you stalking the cute boy from your best friend’s class), and even watching live streams of sports games.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing students that do this. I do catch myself scrolling through Facebook every once and a while when trying to log on to Canvas. It’s not like I try to distract myself, and I bet other students feel the same. It’s basically an unconscious action I don’t realize I’m doing until I look up and realize I’m a few slides behind the professor. And I do catch myself sometimes doing work for another class (but at least that’s productive, right?) and I may or may not be writing this article during class as well, but I guess you’ll just have to ask the students behind me.
So to the professors that prohibit the use of laptops and electronics in class, I understand and appreciate your effort to curb my lingering distraction and to the professors that allow laptops and other electronics, I applaud you for your sincere trust in my ability to pay attention.
Not that I recommend sitting in the very back of the lecture hall, but if you happen to find yourself in one of the last rows, look in front of you, and see what interesting things other students are doing. You may be surprised at how many students are just taking notes or you may be surprised at the creative ability of others to sneakily participate in non-academic activities (Note: my favorites are students watching Buzzfeed recipe videos or videos of puppies running through the snow shared on Facebook).