FLAMES OF THE TORCH

The dynamics of today’s college classroom environment have been dramatically affected by technology in the past few decades. Digital notes, SmartBoards and online course forums have changed the way students learn, for better and for worse.

One of the more visible additions to the classroom has been the laptop.

Today, virtually every college student in the country has their own personal laptop, especially at schools like St. John’s were a laptop program provides one for each student. Some people would argue that this technology is an enormous tool for modern college students, and to some extent this is true.

Having a laptop in class allows students to take clearer notes and access Internet resources that can aid their learning
experience all while sitting in class.

In theory, this works. However in reality, most students choose to take advantage of their laptops in class in ways that do not augment the academic learning experience.

We’ve all seen it – an unsuspecting teachers delivering their lecture as a handful of students browse Facebook, sports sites and chat on AIM, diverting their eyes away from the blackboard.

Some teachers choose to ignore it and others do their best to stop it.

While this is obviously not a productive way for students to be using their laptops in class, it’s indicative of a much deeper social issue. In addition to immense disrespect toward professors, this illuminates that we’ve become a generation of people obsessed with social networking and dependent on constant media stimulation.

When a student can’t sit for 55 minutes through a class, which they’re paying thousands of dollars for without checking their Facebook notifications and updating their online statuses, there is something very wrong. In addition to visiting the social networking sites, many students rarely attend a class in which they don’t receive or send a text message; it’s almost inconceivable that one would keep their phone in their
backpack during class.

This poses a serious threat to the educational futures of those who fall subject to this condition. It reveals that student attention spans are growing increasingly smaller, and the methods used to engage students in their own education are demanding more progressive and creative professors. What is most alarming is the lack of self-control and interest that many of the students show in their education.

The debate that many educators are forced to deal with is how to combat this disturbing trend. It seems ridiculous to ban the use of laptops in the classroom considering that college students are adults. Additionally, we live in an age centered around technology and to prohibit the use of laptops would be grossly unfair to students who actually use their laptops to enhance their classroom and learning experience.

While playing Tetris and browsing Facebook may be a tempting way to stay awake during a boring class, students should realize the dangerous implications this may have on their education. When you reach the point where it’s hard for you to resist the Internet’s lure and not focus on the subject of class, it’s time to admit what sites like Facebook have become – a distracting addiction.