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If you remove laptops, tablets, and smartphones from lectures, distractions will be found elsewhere. Laptops are a tool and they should be used. They can improve the learning experience
As a student, I have experienced three types of lectures. There are fascinating ones, where you sit at the edge of your seat hungrily absorbing as much information as you can. There are repetitive ones, where you listen with half an ear, to maybe learn something new, and work on some assignment or browse Facebook. An then there are boring ones.
These are the most problematic kind. In my experience lectures can be boring for different reasons. It can be because of the lecturer’s apparent lack of spirit, or because it is the fourth lecture in a row on a Friday afternoon, or the subject is either plain easy or impossible to understand. Whatever the reason, this is where distractions are a problem, and lecturer-student interaction – a solution.
We are moving towards a digitalised world, and removing laptops from classrooms and auditoriums is to regress. I can appreciate that lecturers are concerned about students paying more attention to their screens than the lecture itself, but removing the flashing screens is not the solution.
It is my honest opinion that integrating the students in the lectures, with the help of Shakespeak, is the single most powerful tool any lecturer has at their disposal. It gives us, the students, time to think about what we’ve learned and a solid reason to keep our ears open and our eyes peeled.
Not only would we reflect on the topic and try to use it to solve a problem, it would also spur a competitive environment which is very healthy for the motivation of any student. It gives the lecturer much needed feedback from all of the students on how much of the information is catching on. This quickly shows the lecturer what needs to be improved upon, or if the subject is understood and it is time to move onto the next subject.
Unfortunately, I cannot come up with a way of doing more, but I wish I could. The above mentioned interaction between student and lecturer really works wonders, at least for me.
I look forward to the day where a lecture is more of a dialogue between the students and the teacher, mediated by our smartphones, tablets or laptops in all their flashing glory, even if the dialogue is contrary to the definition of a lecture.
What matters is learning, right?
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