The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Computer Banning: A Complicated Issue

SMU/Andrew Hattersley
A Complicated Issue

A Complicated Issue (SMU/Andrew Hattersley)

As students gaze up at Dr Megan Murphy’s PowerPoint, many wish they had a computer to take notes.

But Murphy and many other professors have chosen to ban computers from their classrooms, despite an academic movement to blend technology and higher education.

Murphy said the benefit of the ban is that students are not going to be on Facebook or YouTube when they should be paying attention.

“I tend to view the laptop as an obstruction between myself and the student,” Murphy said,” It’s almost as though they can set up a barrier that protects them from participating.”

Dr. William Barnard has experienced many of the same frustrations, which drove him to also ban computers from his classroom.

“In a good class you know you want everyone on the same page,” Barnard said, “I mean I’ll go off the grid here, but I think there is a certain class energy that gets created, like collective consciousness.”

As Oscar Schechter furiously tries to scribble down the notes in his sociology class, the merits of a computer begin to shine a little brighter. Schechter admits losing the ability to type his notes does affect his ability to focus.

“Sort of in a way, all I do is scribble notes down, I don’t look at the teacher but at the same time I don’t really lose focus,” Schechter, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, said.

Barnard certainly sees where the merits of computers lie, and actually sees it as a shame that more teachers cannot utilize this great tool.

“I had always let students bring in computers. Of course, you know it’s easier to take notes on the computer,” Barnard said.

Freshman Hannah Avery is allowed to use her laptop in all of her classes this semester.

“For some classes it’s easier to take notes, but some classes it can be a distraction,” Avery said.

While distractions exist when students use their laptops in class, banning the computers doesn’t necessarily mean those problems end, some students say.

“Nobody paid attention the first half of the semester, now students just sit in the back and use them and the professor doesn’t really say anything,” Ryan Stoker, a freshman, said.

Many professors such as Murphy and Barnard understand the risks involved with banning computers from classrooms but believe computers are more distracting.
“I do think students are much more likely to become distracted with a computer in front of them during class,” Murphy said.

One area that Murphy and Barnard did concede is that in certain classes it is certainly is necessary to have a computer.

“I acknowledge that there are certain courses, and even specific times in other courses when laptops and in class research is beneficial,” Murphy said. “Many of my colleagues use laptops in class as students do research or work on group projects and presentations.”

Barnard agreed with Murphy in that in the right place, computers can be a great tool but is just not conducive to a productive class.

“I’m sorry because it’s sort of a loss in certain ways there are advantages that can happen but unfortunately students don’t seem disciplined enough,” Barnard said. “I don’t trust that students will not just get pulled by that because even when I say no you can’t, they’ll still hide behind the name plaques with their phones and text.”

However, one possible solution to the ongoing problem might already be in the works. According to Stoker, one of his classes has found a way to mesh the two ideals together.

Stoker described the new idea, “One of my teachers allows computers if you sit in the front so teachers can see your computers.”


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