Since the dawn of the computer age, it seems there’s literally nothing one can’t bring a computer to. Movie theaters are probably one of the rare exceptions to this rule, but people bring their gadgets everywhere these days, that can’t be denied. However, recently they’ve been popping up in classrooms and people have mixed feelings about it. There are both benefits and detractions to having a personal computer in the classroom, and we’ll discuss a few of them here.
Note taking and textbooks use a lot of paper. If you’re someone who’s ecologically-minded, having a personal computer in the classroom is probably a dream come true for you. You can save trees two ways by using e-books and taking your notes the cyber way. Not all textbooks are available in an e-version, but enough are that you will feel as though you’re making a contribution to the cause.
They’re Great Organizational Tools
Using a laptop is a great way to keep all your schoolwork, projects, supplementary material and schedules in one place. You will be less likely to miss turning in an assignment when you’re carrying everything around with you. You’ll also be more likely to remember due dates and other events if you automatically record them on a computer that will eventually sync across all of your devices. Keeping students organized is a paramount benefit of allowing personal computers in the classroom.
They Can Be Distracting
On the flip side, laptops provide access to a lot of distractions that can get in the way of learning. Whether you go to Pomona College or UAB, we all love our funny cat videos on YouTube. It would be virtually impossible for a teacher or a professor to maintain control over what their students were looking at. Yes, it’s great to have a lot of supplementary material at hand, but at what point does a loss of focus make learning more difficult, not more effective? If there isn’t Wi-Fi access, that’s a help, but let’s face it, there probably isn’t a college campus in America that is Wi-Fi free. High schools and elementary schools are also typically outfitted with Wi-Fi these days.
Another thing to consider is that if all students are bringing laptops, where will everyone charge theirs? It’s a very real concern for older buildings not set up for this kind of technology. For colleges, this won’t be a huge problem considering students have longer breaks between classes. But for elementary and high school students, not having a laptop that’s fully charged all day kind of defeats the purpose of having one at all. Why start using something you won’t be able to use all the time. It almost makes more sense to relegate laptop usage to related classes like art or computer science.