Random question: laptop use at MCC?
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 11 years ago
A tangent from a tangent conversation is making me ask...

Now that laptop computers are so abundant (even heard that the horses and cows in Miles City have them now!) are MCC students pretty much taking notes in class on them?

Or, is it still old school with notebooks and micro-recorders like I remember?
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Posted by Josh Rath (+2305) 11 years ago
My guess is the oldschool way. At least, that is what they do in HS still. I whipped out my laptop and got told I was cheating. Guess taking notes of what the teacher says is cheating.
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Posted by Jaylene Tennant (+129) 11 years ago
I just had my first day of classes yesterday and saw one kid with a little laptop. But i think for the most part its just pen and paper.
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Posted by Tina Bean (+415) 11 years ago
I take mine sometimes and I'm not the only one. They are actually used a lot. People are even using their blackberrys and such to record the instructors lectures.
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Posted by Bart Freese (+926) 11 years ago
Laptops. Ahhh, yes, I have watched this closely in the world of education via magazines like Edutopia, and Internet stories. A few years back the big push was to get a laptop into every students' hands -- both at the junior high and high school level. A world of opportunity, but at a pretty high cost. My first thought was -- have you seen how text books are treated? Man, that is a lot of trust.

Well, a few years later the findings . . . while there can/could be a lot of good, many educators in the schools providing the computers reported the laptops were becoming huge distractors. While you are supposed to be paying attention in class, you're fooling around with changing the background pictures on your desktop, looking for useless widgets, etc., etc., etc,

In the right hands and in the right conditions, laptops would be great. Just like everything, however, the negatives (human nature -- that sort of thing) are often overwhelming.

[This message has been edited by Bart Freese (1/16/2010)]
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1272) 11 years ago
You're such an educator Bart! Come on, sometimes you just need a good widget!
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Posted by Bart Freese (+926) 11 years ago
No comment - - - don't want to get myself in trouble.
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Posted by Ord Compton (+11) 11 years ago
Could that be Widget wrestling
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Posted by Bart Freese (+926) 11 years ago
This item from Washington Post. More examples of a good thing going bad.


Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls

David Cole of Georgetown Law was among the first professors in the Washington region to ban laptops for most of his students. A few are selected to use them to take notes, which others may then borrow.
By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

....Cole has banned laptops from his classes, compelling students to take notes the way their parents did: on paper.

...A generation ago, academia embraced the laptop as the most welcome classroom innovation since the ballpoint pen. But during the past decade, it has evolved into a powerful distraction. Wireless Internet connections tempt students away from note-typing to e-mail, blogs, YouTube videos, sports scores, even online gaming -- all the diversions of a home computer beamed into the classroom to compete with the professor for the student's attention.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 11 years ago
Thanks for all the comments.

It's a shame there's still a split on laptop use but the obvious abuses make me understand how that can happen.

For me, I type so much faster than I can write (and let's not even talk about legibility after a 3 hour Business Law lecture). So, I was picturing the old "me" in college cranking out notebook after notebook in downward-spiraling quality just keeping up with JT's law or accounting class. Now, I picture myself on my quiet-key Macbook Pro staring at professor typing every important word, cross referencing, and annotating myself into better material.

It's weird to think that "the old way" somehow translates to better quality notes in some people's minds. However, because I'm old enough to remember life before personal computers and the internet (or before personal, handheld calculators) I think it's just a die-hard mentality at play. Note taking is note taking however it's done. Not like half the kids behind me weren't doodling or drawing comic book characters on their spiral-bound notepads back then, either.

Shame. If I was in college again I'd probably be a royal pain in some people's butts because I'd insist on getting those most out of my educational dollar and use my laptop if I darn well pleased. The burden of proof would have to be on them to show that it gets in the way or that I was abusing it somehow.
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Posted by Bill Freese (+479) 11 years ago
I take my laptop with me to conferences and meetings and find note taking with it to be very useful. But as a teacher, I know from experience that what research tells us is correct; the student who sincerely believes he is multitasking is actually reading his e-mail while ignoring the lecture. So, I come down firmly on both sides of this issue.
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Posted by Bart Freese (+926) 11 years ago
Me, too, brother Bill -- move over and make room on that fence post.

I would have loved to have a laptop as a college student. I would have loved to have a computer as a college student. The old Olivetti did okay, but when I look at the ease of word processing today I think -- not fair.

Dan wrote
Not like half the kids behind me weren't doodling or drawing comic book characters on their spiral-bound notepads back then, either.

Right you are. I kinda forgot about that. As a doodler myself, I do know that I was listening while doodling and it certainly took a much smaller portion of my attention. Spring and attractive classmates were much more of a distraction.

I like the laptop. I would love to see the iPad come in and have a handwriting recognition ability. I think in the classroom, it is easier to stay on top of the students and what they're doing -- MCC is an ideal location and I appreciate how the college does now have a guest wireless access. In a big lecture hall, certainly the laptop could be trouble. Again, Dan you bring up a good point and what about all those kids that skip class? Man, remember how on a test day the lecture hall would be filled? Where did all these people come from and what are they doing here.

I vote for the laptop in class. Maybe the WiFi needs to be shut off -- don't bring up the phone thing.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 11 years ago
I don't think having a word processor up and typing notes is multi-tasking... which was my particular point about the usage benefits. Dictation secretaries and stenographers have proven this for some time now.

If it's considered multitasking then writing on paper would also be - it would suggest one can't listen and write at the same time.

Teachers had variable results policing doodling so they'll have variable results monitoring screwing off on the computer. However, since it's 2010 I wonder how many professors/teachers would have been the same ones to boycott the eraser or pocket calculator for daily class input 30 years ago?

To lump the two together (note taking versus screwing off) is part of the problem. They're not the same. One can be policed as it always has been (a fast-flying eraser to the forehead from 20 feet). The other is just the modern equivalent of quill pen to parchment paper which has a practical place.

I think educators learning to separate real, imagined, and modern variations on old themes is probably the best starting point.

On a laptop taking notes? Hope the kid does well on the Friday test.

On a laptop playing solitaire? Look out... here comes a smack to the back of the head.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14950) 11 years ago
Maybe the City Council should pass an ordinance against distracted lecturing.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 11 years ago
But some of my college professors would only have had 10 minutes worth of material if they had to stay on topic.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 11 years ago
Seems to me that there is a difference between high school and college that requires a different treatment of laptop use. In high school you are often still learning factual information and the teacher may want to test the class's knowledge during a lecture. Use of a laptop to find the answers may be cheating in this context. But in college, rote learning of facts is replaced by critical and creative thinking. Laptop use during class wouldn't help you much.
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