Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Laptops in law school and wireless internet

Here at UW Law School a topic that has been "hot button" lately is the increased use of laptops in classrooms and the use of wireless internet on those laptops. Some of the links that I have on the right have commented on it including Conglomerate. Apparently some people think that laptops should be banned or if not banned perhaps turning off the internet in the classroom because it can be distracting.

Here's my reaction to that. F*ck off! I mean why do you care so much about this topic? It's not an epidemic or that big of a problem. If some people are playing online during class make your class more interesting instead of boring us to death with some insignificant detail of a case we will never see again. If the professors really want to due away with the problem, then ensure that the class is engaged in your conversation.

As far as the internet being distracting to the students around the rebel law student looking at his fantasy baseball team or her latest shoe purchase to that I say that's a lame excuse. We aren't in kindergarten. When you enter into law school you are usually at least 22-23 years old. By that point you are old enough to pay attention and ignore distractions if you so choose. You got through 13 years of preliminary education and 4 years of college somehow right? Give these students some freaking credit. You can't bullshit your way into law school (although I'm sure I snuck in somehow). If a student isn't mature enough to ignore computers in classroom by the time he/she is in law school then your Admissions Committee did a shitty job of selecting applicants that are qualified for a legal education.

I am one of those students who enjoys surfing the net during class. Sometimes I just don't care about the latest case in constitution law or how the UCC applies only to goods not to services. However, I am making the choice to do that. By paying up the ass for my legal education, I should have the right to put the effort in that I feel like putting in as long as I'm not distracting class. Again, the argument that it distracts people in class is weak. These are adults people not children give them some credit please.

Lastly, what inspired this post was that some teacher that seems to be on a mission to stop online using during his class had the gall to come into the class to see what was on our screens. You know what dude if it's that big of deal to you, take a good look because I'm writing about how DISTRACTING you are for coming to the back of the class where teachers don't belong!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The inherent problem is this: where does the right of one student to use a laptop infringe upon the right of other students to have a distraction-free classroom? If you come off as proud of your right to do what you want in the classroom (including use the internet), then you have to extend the same option to non-laptop students.

Another question I ask is this: A student w/o a laptop cannot distract other students (except if they are late). A student with a laptop can. If you distract one student, you have created a problem.

The logical fallacy of the pro-internet-in-class-users argument is that they rally for an extension of rights to themselves w/o extending (or even acknowledging) similar rights to other students.

Take a student with a learning disability, who is more prone to becoming distracted by things. Is it proper for a school to send the message - "You're 22-23 years old and should be mature enough to get over being distracted by students using the internet." Just wait until someone with ADD sues a university for not providing 504 accomodations (against laptop internet use) under the ADA...

8:02 AM  
Blogger DannyNoonan said...

"Take a student with a learning disability, who is more prone to becoming distracted by things. Is it proper for a school to send the message - 'You're 22-23 years old and should be mature enough to get over being distracted by students using the internet.' Just wait until someone with ADD sues a university for not providing 504 accomodations (against laptop internet use) under the ADA..."

I don't think that case would get very far. Do you really think any court would open the door to allowing people to sue their school based on other students' behavior? 504 accomadations more typically involve extra help outside of class and that sort of thing. If the problem with laptops is that they are distracting to OTHER students is enough cause to ban them, shouldnn't we also ban pens that make that clicking noise? Or Hawaiian shirts?

At this point in our lives, whether a student is distracted in class is up to that student.

8:33 AM  
Blogger FreakinRican said...

You know I totally respect your position on the ADA and filing a claim with it. However, don't leave a comment like that and not leave nary a clue as to who you are so I can respond accordingly.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Moral Turpitude said...

We all have our obstacles to overcome in life. If you know you can't pay attention in class without being distracted by what other people are they doing on their laptops, sit in the front row so you can't see them. The noises made by laptops aren't anymore distracting than someone eating in class or sniffling because they're out of Kleenex.

If we're going to be overaccomodating though, I'd like to suggest that ugly people wear paper bags over their heads during class. They distract me. No? I guess we're never going to make everyone happy then.

4:46 PM  
Blogger FreakinRican said...

While we are on the subject of distracting people. If we subject ugly people to paper bags, then I suggest that people who raise their hands more than once a day put on a contraption like the electric fence dog collar and have them receive a shock every time they raise their hands after the first time.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous Professor said...

The logic of the ugly person-wearing-a-bag argument is faulty because a person cannot readily change their physical looks as easily as one can just not bring a laptop to class.

The one question I continue to ask anyone in favor of laptops in class is this - if, in class, everything on your laptop could be nullified except a writing program (Word, notepad, etc.), would you still complain? What more can you need in class? Do you NEED the internet and instant messengers?

One could even take the argument farther (albeit facetiously) and say that if a law school wishes to better prepare students for the practice of law, they would prevent laptops in many classes. Laptops are not allowed in courtrooms, depositions, mediations; the school should wean them off such a dependence of a machine they cannot use all the time.

P.S. Mr. Rican, to answer your query - I post anonymously, but I am a law professor (in another state). A colleague of mine forwarded me a link to your blog.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Moral Turpitude said...

The paper bag post wasn't SUPPOSED to be logical. I don't really "do" logic. It was only a suggestion.

4:23 PM  
Blogger FreakinRican said...

To my anonymous law professor friend. I appreciate you at least answering my query. I am also grateful to your colleague for forwarding you my link as it inevitably increases my hits which in turn makes me feel popular.

As to your facetious argument abour courtrooms, mediations and depositions here is my response. While I can concede that you can't bring these tools in, one can't say that this is an unimportant tool in the practice of law. You can't expect lawyers to ween themselves off of technology because society's depence on it will only increase with time.

As to your other argument about nullifying all other programs except for the writing program that is one way to avoid using the internet but it is not a way to cut down on computer distractions. Just because I can't surf the internet doesn't mean I won't goof around with text on Microsoft Word. I could argue that big bold words on a blank white background is more distracting than some webpage I happen to be looking at so the problems of distractions doesn't really go away does it?

8:37 AM  

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