In undergrad at IU-Kokomo, the use of notebook computers in the classroom was nearly unheard-of. I think I was about the only one in my classes who used a laptop my senior year. When I went to law school the following year, they were much more common, but even that first year there were no more than a handful in most of my classes. But by my third year, it seemed like a clear majority of the students were using them to take notes in class.
This steady growth of laptop users just hit a bump. Whether it was a minor speed bump or something much larger has yet to be determined. At the Memphis University School of Law, Professor June Entman has banned laptops from her class. Many students are furious, and petitions are circulating to reverse the decision. One student even promises to transfer to another law school if the ban remains in effect!
I too would have been very unhappy at such a ban. At the same time, I can understand some of the professor’s concern; she believes that the students are so busy keyboarding they can’t think and analyze the cases upon which she is lecturing. I believe that could easily be the case. I found it very easy to attempt to type every word spoken, and to focus all my energy on that one goal, without really think about what was being said. (I heard of one student who was so intently transcribing every word he typed a professor’s “Bless you!” in response to another student’s sneeze before he realized what he was typing!) This intense focus on transcribing certainly doesn’t lend itself to thoughtful consideration of the issues being discussed.
(A much more obvious distraction is not mentioned in the article above: the Internet, where admittedly I spent too much time in class, as did many of my classmates, I believe.)