The Great Laptop Debate

Facebook. MySpace. Yahoo. Google. Wikipedia.

These are the Web sites that can be found on laptop screens across the classroom while students are supposed to be paying attention. Although teachers may not be able to see what we are watching on our screens, they have now been able to smarten up to our classroom habits thanks to video cameras that have been installed in certain classrooms.

The university is debating whether or not to institute an anti-laptop policy inside classrooms. The benefits of this policy are obvious: Students are now forced to pay attention in class, and teachers can teach without the worry of having to compete with Facebook. But will getting rid of laptops really solve the problem? Many classes are taught by PowerPoint, which is easy to access with a laptop. Taking notes on the computer is also faster and more efficient than pen and paper.

If the university does decide to get rid of laptops in the classroom, doesn’t that take responsibility away from the students? Each student pays over $30,000 a year in tuition. If we want to waste our time in class Facebooking and not learning, isn’t that our prerogative? Having the computers in the classroom may cause a distraction to students, but it also teaches us to work around distractions. After all, we will be facing the same distractions in the real world, where we won’t have bosses and security cameras.

Whether or not a student wants to learn will not be dependent on the presence of laptops in the classroom. Even if the university places a ban on laptops in the classroom, the students who are averse to learning in the classroom will find a way to distract themselves. We should not let the university dictate how we choose to learn and limit those who are actually trying to make an effort.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.