Sara Fischer: Laptops provide opportunities for educational engagement and progress

Professors, parents, students and school administrators have long debated whether or not laptops are a beneficial learning tool, but it is time for that debate to end.

Laptops are a fundamental learning instrument needed in most classroom settings. Those illuminated apples on Macs signal how much potential classroom learning can have beyond scratching a pencil on paper.

So many college classes at GW study current events and require analysis of developing stories. Having a laptop enables students to quickly pull up articles and access information to contribute to class discussion in a dynamic way.

I’ve seen effective interactive laptop use in classrooms, particularly in media and public affairs courses, where much of the time, the curriculum does not revolve around textbooks, but rather an ever-changing political climate.

Laptops can also bolster engineering and science courses by allowing students to interact with lectures by referring to virtual tables or graphics; moreover, many course supplements are online. Students should be able to access these during class.

Laptops are also extremely useful when it comes to documenting what is said in class. Professors and lecturers often cover so much information in such a short period of time that trying to hand-write everything that is discussed is nearly impossible.

Students who are absent from class also benefit from laptop use because they can practically access notes instantaneously. Should a student miss class, the likelihood that a peer already has the notes typed up and saved in a digital file is very high – when professors allow students to take notes electronically, that is. Sharing information becomes easier, and missing a class due to illness or an emergency becomes less problematic.

A laptop is simply an unmatched utility, but that’s not the biggest reason we should be allowed to open them up during a lecture. It is frustrating that we’ve reached a mature age and attend a school that requires a high level of academic commitment, yet we are not trusted with the ability to learn in the way that is best for us.

Not everyone is going to want to use a laptop. But the fact that those of us who do benefit from them are often prohibited from doing so is an assault on our efforts to educate ourselves and use the technology available to us today.

The classroom dynamic is no longer one of pencil sharpeners and huge binder rings; most students have more desktop folders than real ones. Our generation is constantly plugged in and takes advantage whenever it can of what the digital world offers.

Why stop progress?

Sara Fischer is a senior majoring in political communication.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.