Blog Mobility

A Student Viewpoint: Why Can’t I Use My Laptop During Class?

Lisa Yeaton Specialist, Content Marketing Published 9 Nov 2016

One thing that has bothered me tremendously over my college experience is that professors often don’t trust students enough to allow technology use in their classroom. I mean seriously, it’s the 21st century; I’m paying an atrocious amount of money to attend the institution, it is my education, and the school has Wi-Fi. So, why am I being told I can’t use my laptop?

I truly don’t think it’s fair for a professor to ban technology. Just because they caught one student doing something unrelated to class on their laptop doesn’t mean they should take away technology from everyone. Why should all students be punished for the mistake of one? There are more than 200 students in each graduating class at my business school and my courses have students from multiple classes in them, so it is unlikely students even know the student that caused the crackdown.

When everyone suffers because of one student’s faulty judgement, it is not fair nor is it equal treatment for all the students. If teachers must punish someone, they should punish only the rule breaker. Teachers should set an example and show students that only those who break the rules will be punished and suffer. When all students suffer, morale goes down.  

Technology is an important asset. Students use their laptops and devices to take notes and stay more organized than they could with a pencil and paper. I love it when I am able to type up my notes into a perfect outline format in Word. My notes flow nicer, I can easily make changes, and quickly search for information. When I need to find something, I click CTRL+F or the find button, and my entire document is searched to find the definition or section of my notes I am looking to study. I am baffled as to why professors would ban such powerful tools students have been taught to utilize and take notes on.  

I also love using my laptop or other devices to view the presentation as the professor displays it on the board because in some classrooms there is a pole in the middle of the room obstructing the view or too much glare is coming from the lights (and the professor won’t let us shut them off). On my device I can see the presentation more clearly. When students can see presentations up close they don’t need to strain their eyes.  

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Large lecture hall with small printed, barely legible presentation on wall

In school I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of diverse and interesting people. I have met some extremely nice, determined, and connected people. What do I mean by this? The people I have associated with all have great personalities, but they are also really busy, they work very hard, and need to be connected to their devices to get through the day. Over 90% of the students have demanding school schedules and are working part or even full-time. Some aren’t from the local area or are caregivers, so they need to take phones calls in case of emergencies. When I was working full-time in retail I needed my phone to answer questions if something went wrong at the store because I was highly knowledgeable on the processes that kept the store running. One of my closest friends is a top saleswomen who needs to be on-call when no other salesperson is available to close the store. Many students work in retail to put themselves through school and as managers or vital associates they really need to be available to answer texts or phone calls. These might not always be glamorous jobs, but our college professors instill in us an excellent work ethic to always support the needs of the business.

Most students are paying to put themselves through school. Whether part or full-time, we are doing something to make a dent in our looming college debt. It’s unfortunate that some students are forced to push themselves to their limits because of costs, but that’s the world we live in today. One good thing about working this hard is that when we are in class we pay attention. Sometimes we might get distracted for a minute, but that’s on us. We know what’s at stake and we do care, but sometimes we get bored, distracted, or irritated. In the real world, sometimes you get bored, distracted, or irritated, but you get back to work and complete your tasks so you don’t lose your job. College students are learning to stay on task and it’s up to them to take control of their lives and resist temptations. Students are paying thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to attend college, so it is highly unlikely they are going to regularly skip classes or goof off for an entire class period. There are the temptations to check email, update social media pages, or something else, but if we do that’s our choice. It’s also our choice as to whether we let our temptations affect our grades and learning.

Maybe professors feel they are looking out for us when they deny the use of technology in class, but college students are adults and need a wakeup call if they aren’t going to pay attention in class. Professors shouldn’t punish an entire class for one student’s mistake; after all that could lead to students ganging up on that one student or no one wanting to work with the student that ruined things for everyone. However, had the professor just punished the one student, no one would be mad at them. Professors need to respect students’ wants; not because today’s students feel entitled, but because they are determined, responsible, incredibly busy, and we live in a 24-hour connected society.

For other viewpoints on technology and distractions in classrooms check out these blogs:

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