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Why You Should Be Asking Your Students to Ditch Their Laptops During Class

by Susan Ravizza

Many universities encourage students to purchase laptops that they can bring to class. Charities like One Laptop per Child provide low-cost laptops to disadvantaged students.

There is no doubt that having a desktop computer or laptop in school is useful for writing papers, gathering information and learning how to program and use software.

But, as would seem obvious, surfing the internet during class – and connecting with friends, shopping or streaming movies – could also prove to be a source of distraction and hinder learning.

I am an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. Over the past few years, I have noticed an increasing number of students who bring laptops to class.

So, I decided to use my research expertise in memory and attention to investigate: How do students use their laptop in class? How does it relate to their learning of class material?

Here’s what I found.

Multitasking in the classroom

Certainly, there have always been distractions in the classroom. Less high-tech distractions such as passing notes, doodling or reading the newspaper can be easily noticed. Even smartphone use is easy to tell, as there is a downward lap gaze.

In classes with no computer-based assignments, how about asking students to leave their laptops behind when they come to class? (Photo: Flickr)

In classes with no

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