Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Friday, February 02, 2007
I like technology but I think technology in the classroom has its limits, especially on the demand (student) side of the equation. Clicking away on the keyboard while typing notes is not a very good way to internalize the information being presented - think of how little you remember of the documents you typed in typing class or how much information a legal transcriber actually remembers.
Laptops and PDAs might have their roles in certain classes, but for the most part I am not a big fan. Evidently, the idea that laptops can distract from the learning process has now been "confirmed" by a new study at Winona State in Minnesota, as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Instead of zeroing in on the lecture, students who brought laptops to class spent considerable time e-mailing, surfing the Internet and playing games, posing a "significant" distraction to both users and fellow students.
It isn't immediately clear from the newspaper account whether the study was done in a "sophisticated" manner. One assumes that the five percent drop in average grades is a statistically significant but not a spurious relationship. However, without access to the original study (which I might yet find today) it is difficult to tell.
Again, I would be a bit more surprised if the laptops led to a five percent increase in average grades, although that might depend more on the particular class in which the laptops were used: programming C++ or English literature?
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