Professors and students discuss laptops in class

Most students have been exposed to the “laptop kid.” This student can be seen near the back of the room scrolling through Facebook and silently laughing at cat videos.

Though some professors allow the use of laptops in the classroom, others prohibit it.

“I prefer students not use them,” said Laura Hardin, instructor of communications. “I don’t see any positive outcomes from using a laptop in the classroom. I think it is better for students to write down the information. If they want the notes on their laptops, then they can just transfer them.”

Other professors find the use of laptops beneficial.

“I don’t have a problem with them,” said Kelly Latchaw, assistant professor of English. “They help my students do their work and access resources.”

Students who take notes by hand score better on conceptual questions than those who type notes on a laptop, according to a 2014 study published in the Psychological Science Journal.

“There are no benefits,” Hardin said. “Writing down notes, rather than typing, helps retention of the information.”

Some students like sophomore Erica Servi can see the advantages on both sides of the argument.

“Personally, I think it’s better to hand-write notes because I think you learn more from handwriting than typing,” Servi said. “If you’re in an online class or a class where you’re going to research things using the Internet, then it’s better for you to have that laptop to use.”

Although junior Kyle Stephenson uses a laptop in class, he said he does not think students use them as a helpful tool.

“I would say it’s probably more of a distraction because most people misuse it,” Stephenson said. “That’s why most classes don’t allow it. For the people who do use it correctly, it’s a great tool.”

Proper laptop use in the classroom depends on the student, said freshman Madison Henry.

“It would be a distraction for me because I would be on everything but what I’m supposed to be,” Henry said.

The ongoing debate is whether professors will be able to utilize the benefits laptops provide or if students will keep turning them into a distraction.

The rules on laptop use vary by professor.

“One of my professors requires you to turn in your notes after class,” said freshman Jennifer Van Tassel. “You have to email them to him.”

Servi said her professor requires all of the notes from class be printed off and turned in at the end of the year and welcomes students who bring their laptops.

“My professor likes when people bring laptops into class,” she said. “He doesn’t mind if you use your laptop or if you hand-write your notes, as long as you are taking notes.”

Latchaw said her students have not abused the privilege of being able to use laptops during class.

“They haven’t abused the privilege,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with students checking Facebook or their email. So even though there are some disadvantages, the advantages are too beneficial to ignore.”