Tech or No Tech in the Classroom? The debate Continues.

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

Came across this: Why I’m Asking You Not to Use Laptops – Lingua Franca – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I suspect it is because we are starting a new school year that this topic is popping up a lot. There was a discussion about it in my department just last week. As usual, there are some people on each side of the issue (I’ve copied a few of the research articles that came out of that discussion at the bottom of this post). There’s an eery similarity between the anti group and the media effects folks (see my recent post on the APA’s pronouncement that videogames cause violent behavior). It’s often pretty clear that the researchers started off with a bias against the use of technology in class and were looking to confirm their opinions.

I’ve been using tech in my classes extensively for a long time – I create a website for each course, and as the tech develops, so does my website.

I’m familiar with some of the research on the value of writing things vs typing them, and I really like the idea of giving a set break during a class for checking email etc. (especially if it’s > 50 m.). That’s what I was thinking of when I said I thought it was a great idea. I make my students get up and walk around in longer classes too. My approach to phones and other tech would be a little different though – in my classes, I spend some time talking about the research on multi-tasking, the so-called ‘digital natives’, writing vs typing, and the effect you can have on those around you when you play games, or facebook, etc.

I try to put the focus on being courteous and considerate, but I’m not convinced that keeping phones out of sight will solve anything. Many people use phones as their main computing device.

Based on my own (admittedly biased) 35 years worth of teaching experience, I would say that tech in the class has more benefits than challenges, but you need to actively engage with it in the classroom. I think it also helps to actually teach them how to use the computer for something more than note-taking and powerpoint watching. Modeling behaviour is an important piece.


Investigating the Benefits and Challenges of Using Laptop Computers in Higher Education Classrooms,

Kay, Robin Holding; Lauricella, Sharon – Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 2014

The purpose of this study was to investigate the benefits and challenges using laptop computers (hereafter referred to as laptops) inside and outside higher education classrooms. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 156 university students (54 males, 102 females) enrolled in either education or communication studies. Benefits of…


Laptops in Classroom Interaction: The Dynamic Reach of the Laptoped Situation

Lindroth, Tomas; Lundin, Johan; Svensson, Lars – International Association for Development of the Information Society, 2013

Laptops and other networked technologies are commonplace at university campuses. While a range of studies researches the negative effects of multitasking, screenpeeking and other laptop related side effects this article emphasize the situational impact of student-laptop interaction. Departing from Goffman’s framework on unfocused interaction and…

Descriptors: Laptop Computers, Computer Uses in Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education

Wireless Laptops as Means for Promoting Active Learning in Large Lecture Halls

Barak, Miri; Lipson, Alberta; Lerman, Steven – Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 2006

This paper reports on a study that examined the use of wireless laptops for promoting active learning in lecture halls. The study examined students’ behavior in class and their perceptions of the new learning environment throughout three consecutive semesters. An online survey revealed that students have highly positive perceptions about the use…

Descriptors: Active Learning, Student Behavior, Educational Environment, Teacher Student Relationship


Carrier, L. M., Rosen, L. D., Cheever, N. A., & Lim, A. F. (2015). Causes, effects, and practicalities of everyday multitasking. Developmental Review, 35, 64-78.

Gaudreau, P., Miranda, D., & Gareau, A. (2014). Canadian university students in wireless classrooms: What do they do on their laptops and does it really matter?. Computers & Education, 70, 245-255.

David, P., Kim, J. H., Brickman, J. S., Ran, W., & Curtis, C. M. (2014). Mobile phone distraction while studying. New Media & Society, 1461444814531692.

Dietz, S., & Henrich, C. (2014). Texting as a distraction to learning in college students. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 163-167.

Gupta, N., & Irwin, J. D. (2014). In-class distractions: The role of Facebook and the primary learning task. Computers in Human Behavior.

Gingerich, A. C., & Lineweaver, T. T. (2014). OMG! Texting in class= u fail :(empirical evidence that text messaging during class disrupts comprehension. Teaching of psychology, 41(1), 44-51.

Junco, R. (2012). Too much face and not enough books: The relationship between multiple indices of Facebook use and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(1), 187-198.

Junco, R., & Cotten, S. R. (2012). No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance. Computers & Education, 59(2), 505-514.

Jacobsen, W. C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: Academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology,

Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(5), 275-280.

Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50(3), 906-914.

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