use of laptops phones in the classroom

Why I’m Asking You Not to / Use Laptops

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research showing how laptops can be more of a distraction than a learning enabler. Purdue University even started blocking streaming websites such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu and Pandora.

But others say banning laptops can be counterproductive, arguing these devices can create opportunity for students to discover more information during class or collaborate. And that certain tools and technologies are necessary for learners who struggle in a traditional lecture format.


Supiano, B. (2019, April 7). Digital Distraction Is a Problem Far Beyond the Classroom. But Professors Can Still Help. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from
Flanigan, who studies self-regulation, or the processes students use to achieve their learning goals, began researching digital distraction after confronting it in the classroom as a graduate instructor.
Digital distraction tempts all of us, almost everywhere. That’s the premise of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport, an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University.

The professor is upset. The professor has taken action, by banning laptops.
Bruff, whose next book, Intentional Tech: Principles to Guide the Use of Educational Technology in College Teaching, is set to be published this fall, is among the experts who think that’s a mistake. Why? Well, for one thing, he said, students are “going to have to graduate and get jobs and use laptops without being on Facebook all day.” The classroom should help prepare them for that.

 When Volk teaches a course with 50 or 60 students, he said, “the idea is to keep them moving.”Shifting the focal point away from the professor can help, too. “If they are in a small group with their colleagues,” Volk said, “very rarely will I see them on their laptops doing things they shouldn’t be.”
Professors may not see themselves as performers, but if they can’t get students’ attention, nothing else they do matters. “Learning doesn’t happen without attention,” said Lang, who is writing a book about digital distraction, Teaching Distracted Minds.
One aspect of distraction Lang plans to cover in his book is its history. It’s possible, he said, to regard our smartphones as either too similar or dissimilar from the distractions of the past. And it’s important, he said, to remember how new this technology really is, and how much we still don’t know about it.

Study: Use of digital devices in class affects students’ long-term retention of information

  • A new study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University reveals that students who are distracted by texts, games, or videos while taking lecture notes on digital devices are far more likely to have their long-term memory affected and to perform more poorly on exams, even if short-term memory is not impacted, EdSurge reports.
  • Exam performance was not only poorer for students using the devices, but also for other students in classes that permitted the devices because of the distraction factor, the study found.
  • After conducting the study, Arnold Glass, the lead researcher, changed his own policy and no longer allows his students to take notes on digital devices.
A nationally representative Gallup poll conducted in March showed that 42% of K-12 teachers feel that the use of digital devices in the classroom are “mostly helpful” for students, while only 28% feel they are “mostly harmful.” Yet 69% of those same teachers feel the devices have a harmful impact on student mental health and 55% feel they negatively affect student physical health.
 According to a 2016 study of college students, student waste about 20% of their class time for “non-class” purposes — texting, emailing, or using social media more than 11 times in a typical day. In K-12, increased dependence on digital devices often interferes with homework completion as well.
Though the new study focused on long-term retention, past studies have also shown that indicate a negative correlation between use of digital devices during class and exam scores. A 2015 study by the London School of Economics revealed that pupils in schools that banned cell phones performed better on exams and that the differences were most notable for low-performing students.

By Jack Grove Twitter: @jgro_the  April 4, 2017

Using laptops in class harms academic performance, study warns. Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

findings, published in the journal Economics of Education Review in a paper, based on an analysis of the grades of about 5,600 students at a private US liberal arts college, found that using a laptop appeared to harm the grades of male and low-performing students most significantly.

While the authors were unable to definitively say why laptop use caused a “significant negative effect in grades”, the authors believe that classroom “cyber-slacking” plays a major role in lower achievement, with wi-fi-enabled computers providing numerous distractions for students.

April 07, 2006

A Law Professor Bans Laptops From the Classroom


Classroom Confrontation Over Student’s Laptop Use Leads to Professor’s Arrest

June 02, 2006

The Fight for Classroom Attention: Professor vs. Laptop

Some instructors ban computers or shut off Internet access, bringing complaints from students

Classroom Confrontation Over Student’s Laptop Use Leads to Professor’s Arrest

by Anne Curza

Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers

March 13, 2017

The Distracted Classroom

Welcome, Freshmen. Look at Me When I Talk to You.

October 28, 2015

Memorization, Cheating, and Technology. What can we do to stem the increased use of phones and laptops to cheat on exams in class?

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intrinsic motivation:

The learning experience is different in schools that assign laptops, a survey finds

The learning experience is different in schools that assign laptops, a survey finds

High schoolers assigned a laptop or a Chromebook were more likely to take notes in class, do internet research, create documents to share, collaborate with their peers on projects, check their grades and get reminders about tests or homework due dates.


Blended Learning – the idea of incorporating technology into the every day experience of education – can save time, raise engagement, and increase student retention.

Lets face it, our students are addicted to their phones. Like…drugs addicted. It is not just a bad habit, it is hard wired in their brains(literally) to have the constant stimulation of their phones.

If you are interested in the research, there is a lot out there to read about how it happens and how bad it is.

Scientific American article published about a recent study of nomophobia – on adults (yes, many of us are addicted too).


Best Practices for Laptops in the Classroom

September 11, 2016

No, Banning Laptops Is Not the Answer. And it’s just as pointless to condemn any ban on electronic devices in the classroom


Don’t Ban Laptops in the Classroom

Use of Laptops in the Classroom: Research and Best Practices. Tomorrow’s Teaching and Learning


On Not Banning Laptops in the Classroom

+++++++++++++   neutral / observation +++++++++++++++

F January 26, 2001

Colleges Differ on Costs and Benefits of ‘Ubiquitous’ Computing

“Bring Your Own Device” Policies?

June 13, 2014, 2:40 pm By Robert Talbert

Three issues with the case for banning laptops

3 Tips for Managing Phone Use in Class

Setting cell phone expectations early is key to accessing the learning potential of these devices and minimizing the distraction factor.

more on mobile learning in this IMS blog

11 Comments on use of laptops phones in the classroom

  1. Plamen Miltenoff
    September 6, 2017 at 6:42 pm (3 years ago)

    Faculty Say Laptops, Mobile Phones Are Most Popular Student Devices

    In our second annual Teaching with Technology Survey, faculty weighed in on students’ favorite tech, the BYOD model, whether or not to ban devices in the classroom and more.

    By Rhea Kelly09/06/17
    79 percent of faculty said they allow students to use mobile phones in the classroom (sometimes with limitations), while 21 percent do not.

  2. Plamen Miltenoff
    October 4, 2017 at 10:11 pm (3 years ago)

    use of cell phones in the classroom
    LinkedIn Faculty Focus conversation:

    SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2017 Helping Students Make the Right Call on Cell Phones By: Pete Burkholder, PhD

    What if, instead of punishing students for bad behavior, we rewarded them for good conduct? This reversal undergirded the study by Katz and Lambert, who offered extra credit to those willing to surrender their cell phones at the start of each class.

    consistent with Berry and Westfall’s findings, most of my students were convinced that cell phones were not distractors. Yet, despite that view, about half of each class admitted that giving up their devices had a positive effect on their own learning (some were unsure, and a small minority disagreed with that proposition). Even less ambiguous were students’ assessments of the impact on classroom environment: combined, 69.2% detected a positive effect, while no one saw a downside (the remainder were ambivalent). The only discernable gripe concerned the small amount of extra credit awarded: predictably, students thought they should receive more points. But as seen in the statistics above, this seems to have had little impact on actual participation rates.

    So we start giving extra ‘academic’ credit for students who turn in
    their phones. Are we setting a precedence for those who have other
    electronic devices like smart watches, music players, thumb drives with games,
    etc.? And what do we do with the student who has no opportunity for
    ‘extra credit’ since they do not own a cell phone?

  3. Plamen Miltenoff
    February 5, 2018 at 5:32 pm (3 years ago)

    Laptops And Phones In The Classroom: Yea, Nay Or A Third Way?
    By Anya Kamenetz JANUARY 25, 2018
    On the one hand, those sleek little supercomputers promise to connect us to all human knowledge.

    study digital distraction among youth and to make it easier to limit young people’s use.
    The letter cited a national survey that found two-thirds of K-12 teachers said the number of students who are negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom is growing. Of those teachers surveyed, 75 percent said students’ ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased.

    Research at the college level backs that up; a small, 2017 study at the University of Michigan found students in an introductory psychology course spent up to a third of class time surfing the web to non-academic sites — even though they knew that the researchers were tracking their computer use.

    four professors, a high school teacher, a psychiatrist and a technologist to get a range of different views:

  4. Plamen Miltenoff
    February 14, 2018 at 11:09 pm (3 years ago)

    Laptops in the Classroom: An Open and Closed Case. .
    February 05, 2018
    Martin West
    Harvard School of Education

    A recent commentary piece
    in the New York Times generated a flurry of debate over the proper use of technology in college classrooms.
    Three years ago, I decided to require that students disable their laptops’ wireless capabilities, convinced that the root of the problem was the temptation of being connected—and the costs giving into that temptation imposed on other students. My “no-WiFi” policy proved difficult to enforce, however, and did nothing about the possibility that laptop-use might hinder learning in other ways.

    This semester, I went a step further. Inspired by the same body of research University of Michigan economist Sue Dynarski reviewed in her recent New York Times column, I decided to ban laptops altogether—at least during the 50 percent of class meetings that are primarily lectures.

    Nora Gordon
    Georgetown University

    Last August I read Sue Dynarski’s compelling Brookings report
    summarizing the research on the use of nora-gordontechnology in the college classroom. It provided the push I needed to ban the laptops and phones I had long suspected did nothing good in my classroom.

    Morgan Polikoff
    University of Southern California

    Over time, I have typically reverted back to an “anything goes” policy on devices. There are two reasons for this. First, the types of classes I have taught have changed—in recent years I have mostly been teaching PhD statistics classes where a) devices are more necessary and b) I am less concerned about motivation problems in class.

    Second, I have been persuaded by the advocates that blanket device bans may marginalize already marginalized student groups. For instance, a blanket laptop ban with an exception for students with disabilities forces these students to “out” themselves in class, which may make them uncomfortable and affect their ability to learn.


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