There’s an interesting article in yesterday’s Washington Post by staff writer Daniel de Vise entitled, “Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls”.  Some professors have banned laptops in their classes at George Washington University, American University, College of William and Mary, and the University of Virginia.  Students are encouraged to take notes the old-fashined way:  with pen and paper.  I really don’t think that banning laptops from the classroom is the solution to reclaiming students’ attention in class.  This is only going to entice them to migrate to other distracting–and more concealable–electronic devices  such as iphones and blackberrys that are equally capable of surfing the Web and checking email.  And technology exists to switch off acess to internet and email.  One of my work study students uses her laptop’s tablet cababilities to annotate her instructor’s PowerPoint lectures electronically during class!  This saves a boatload of paper! 

“Plenty of professors still allow laptops. Siva Vaidhyanathan, an associate professor of media studies and law at U-Va., generally permits them in his classes. He remembers his own college diversion: reading newspapers surreptitiously on the floor beneath his desk. He believes that, ultimately, it is a professor’s job to hold the class’s attention.

“If students don’t want to pay attention, the laptop is the least of your problems,” he said.”  In other words, instructors need to rethink their teaching methodology.  Student-centered teaching is key, but not an easy task.