Technology distracts in the classroom

It is not uncommon to walk into a college classroom and find laptops open, tablets glowing and the occasional smartphone out. However, one Dartmouth professor has had enough and requested technology be banned in the classroom. 

Technology in the classroom is a constant distraction, and with a new generation of students who have never lived without a computer in their home, interaction with digital stimuli has made them more prone to distraction, according to the New York Times. 

A study published in the journal Computers & Education found that technology not only distracts the user, but classmates as well. The study quizzed students who were taking notes with a pen and paper, while some students were sitting next to laptop users and others were not. The study found that the students sitting near computers scored 17 percent less than those who were not. 

Dan Rockmore, a colleague of the protesting Dartmouth professor, is one of many instructors who have a personal technology ban in their lectures, stating he feels there is no benefit. Aside from being a distraction, the educational advantages to in-class tech use are limited, suggesting there is no place for computers in the classroom. 

A recent study from Princeton compared the results of a lecture quiz between students who took notes using a computer and those who took handwritten notes. The study found that students who handwrote their notes performed better, explaining that typing notes encourages verbatim transcription instead of processing the information. 

Though some professors strongly suggest students not use laptops in class, Education Portal, a website that provides online courses through universities, suggests if students must use computers during lecture, they should only utilize the programs relevant to the course and learn to multitask better. 

U.S. students pay an average of $22,826 a year in tuition and fees at public universities, a high price tag for scrolling through Facebook in a classroom instead of at home. In 2008, the University of Chicago Law School retaliated against the technology revolution by cutting off the Wi-Fi, claiming they were encouraging students to engage in discussions. 

Campus-wide computer bans might seem a little brash when initially introduced, but the advantages outweigh the loss, which lasts the length of a lecture. Students should be willing to devote their time to being present and engaged while in class, and they will reap the rewards of their investment. While having the Internet may seem like having the world at the click of a mouse, real-life communication provides more opportunity to learn. 

Brandon Shaik is a senior majoring in psychology.