To type or to write? Type

Forgive me if I’m too hard on the professors of this university.

Despite their dubious reputation for “making themselves scarce,” one that it seems they may never escape, I’ve found the great majority of them to be hard working, helpful and, on many occasions, downright friendly.

For these reasons and more, I’m usually a big proponent of giving them as much freedom as we can to have the final say on what happens within their classrooms. I’ll bet any day of the week that a teacher is more in touch with what is necessary in a learning environment than an administrator.

So please, believe me when I say that it really does pain me to say this, and excuse me for going ahead and saying it anyway: this is one time that the university needs to set a standard; it should prohibit laptop prohibition.

Don’t get me wrong; I can empathize with professors who loathe the idea of dazed students chatting and surfing while they attempt to lecture. But there’s a greater good to be served here. St. John’s prides itself on the way that it embraces the growing role of technology in education. It should not allow professors to stunt that growth.

Frankly, the inherent benefits in allowing personal computers in the classroom outweigh the detriments that come along with them, and professors should be able to accept as much. If they really value their students’ ability to absorb the material, they should realize that computerized note taking makes the process less painful and more helpful.

If they yearn for classroom discourse, they should think about the value of having an infinite wealth of relevant information at the fingertips of students.

And if professors can’t find the merit in these tools, then the University should step in and point it out to them. The school spends too much time and money on its technological endeavors (and the promotion thereof) to let those tuition-subsidized laptops sit idle and those campus-spanning wireless networks go unused in that most important arena of education: the classroom.

The drawbacks to bringing the World Wide Web into the classroom, most notably the temptation to be distracted by AIM, Yahoo! and Perez Hilton, are not so much the root of the problem as the symptoms of it.

Again, I hate to say it, but students who spend their time in class playing online sudoku aren’t going to be any more engaged if they’re forced into whiling away their class time without the aid of their laptops. Whether the problem here lies with the student, the material, or the way that it’s presented is conjecture, but the abolishment of the in-class computer is not the solution.

Again, I can see where professors are coming from when they ban laptops from their classes in the interest of an efficient learning space. I hope that they can similarly see where I’m coming from when I say that learning space is made most effective by allowing them.

For once, the guys in the ivory tower should dictate what goes on in the classroom, and for once, it would be for the benefit of those who are here to learn.