Laptops in Lectures

I came across this amusing photo via Digg a while ago and I’m reminded just how true the message behind it is in almost every lecture I attend.  For what it’s worth, I’ve never typed notes in a lecture on a laptop or netbook; besides the temptation for distraction, I regard it as a courtesy to my fellow students not to irritate them with the constant tapping of the keys.  Others, though, don’t share my good manners.

In my competition law seminar the other day, I was amused to observe a student sitting in front of me sampling the highs and lows of what the internet has to offer while she should have been participating in the discussion regarding the ins and outs of oligopolies.  I guess that’s the inevitable downside of having a laptop with you at all times and fast WI-FI internet access – particularly where students are concerned.  We’re not, as a bunch, renowned for having the longest attention spans.Laptops in Lectures


  1. I detest laptops in lectures. My Law School has actually banned anyone from using a laptop to take down notes unless permission has been given by the Dean. Permission will only be granted in very limited circumstances.

  2. I take my laptop since I'm doing a distance-learning course. I have all the textbooks downloaded onto it so I don't have to carry them around all weekend.

    I never actually use it to take notes though. If I didn't hand-write them I'd barely ever hand-write anything and I don't think I'd cope come exam-time!

  3. My law school has also banned the use of laptops unless there is special circumstances (disability ect).

    I agree with it though, especially when there is facebook. An in seminars instead of reading the material you could just wikapedia or google the information and read from the internet. I think turning up with the research already done pays off and makes the discussion better.

  4. That's all very interesting. I'm surprised that some institutions have gone so far as to ban the use of laptops or netbooks at a time when we're all meant to be embracing technology like never before.

    I guess there's a 'time and a place' for everything.

  5. Laptops on lectures are a waste of time! I know someone who used to play WoW during the BVC lectures... Why bother attending, I ask?

  6. I once had a threeway conversation with two people in one of my seminars about how confusing the material we had to cover was, needless to say a waste of time, that could have been better spent asking questions..

    I don't agree with banning laptops, you should be free to choose whatever medium you want to do your work on.

    Most people I see with a laptop often copy and paste from the lecture PDFs so they don't have to keep copying out the same titles etc and their notes are structured.

    Sometimes I can't actually read my own handwriting after a while, no matte how hard I tried at the time to make it legible.

    Laptops are the way forward!! Less paper wastage, of taking your notes once in a lecture, then more notes from your readings, then typing up your notes and printing them off!

  7. I took laptop in my school since i started to learn accounting software course......

  8. A Laptop's a useful tool for a postgrad, but, as far as I can see, as a tool for an undergrad, all it provides is a sophisitcated distraction from the more er, strained subject matters related to law......
    I find my Laptop incredibly useful because I'm doing a lot of spreadsheeting of data, so much so that I DREAD to think what would become of me if I lost the damned thing! ( *shudder*)

  9. Laptops in lectures are a huge distraction - often not least for the user.
    That said, I take Lost's point that they are the way forward to a large extent but it's a question of using them in a constructive way. Given that tablet PCs haven't really gone mainstream ye - or haven't taken off - we're stuck with the annoying tapping of the keys to contend with.

    I often copy and paste certain parts of lecturer's notes to create my own notes for a topic - but always AFTER the lecture. To do it properly and in 'real time', you would need access to a soft copy of the notes at the lecture. In my experience, most lecturers put their notes up on blackboard AFTER the lecture. I find the convenience of pen and paper for making small annotations to the notes useful and far more beneficial than trying to order and amend notes on a laptop in real time.

    I suppose laptops in a seminar environment can be more useful - particularly at postgrad level. Still, they can be useful at any level, when used in the right way. I guess undergrads typically haven't developed the requisite willpower to avoid potential distractions at that stage.

  10. I must go to some kind of draconian Law school because an E-mail came down from the Dean saying if we want to record lectures (which has become quite common) we must seek approval from our Head of Year (and again approval will only be granted in certain circumstances).

    I never recorded lectures, but had friends who did and they found it really beneficial.

  11. I love using my laptop for notetaking - means I have a coherent record of the lecture which is always much clearer than handwritten notes.

    It's particularly useful because most of our lecturers jump all over the place, so notes must then be all over the place.

    I'm surprised - if judges can use laptops to take notes in court, why cant law students do the same in lectures!


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