Banning laptops from lectures

March 15, 2010
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Could you survive law school without using your laptop in class? There’s a push by some professors to ban laptops from class because they are distracting students from learning. Students check e-mail, update their Facebook status, or surf the Web when they should be taking notes or paying attention to the professor. Basically, laptops are 21st century versions of doodling in your notebook.

I don’t know when laptops became the norm in college at the undergrad or graduate levels. I rarely saw someone with a laptop in class when I was getting my bachelor’s degree, but I suspect laptops caught on in graduate studies faster. And even if a student did have one when I was in school, the student couldn’t have checked Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace because those Web sites didn’t exist.

But now it seems as though all students are encouraged to have laptops to take to college, and they are essentially required for law students. I found an article from 2001 on the American Bar Association’s Web site with interviews from law students about “secret technology weapons” for surviving law school. Most listed the laptop. (Does anyone else’s mind wander to the scene in “Legally Blond” when Elle Woods shows up to her first law school class to discover she’s the only one without a laptop, or is that just me?)

According to Al’s Morning Meeting, an e-mail I receive from the Poynter Institute, when a Georgetown law professor banned laptops for six weeks, 80 percent of students reported they were more engaged in class discussion. Almost all admitted they had used their laptops for more than just taking notes.

If I’d had a laptop when I was in college, it would have been great. I can type much more quickly than I write, the notes would have been legible, and I could have organized them more easily. There’s also a good chance that if the lecture wasn’t keeping my attention, I would have surfed the Web.

Anyone have a professor ban laptops in a law class? Did the ban make your attention in class better or worse?
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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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