laptops : LUSENET : ILT interns : One Thread

Subject: H-TEACH Re: laptops in the classroom Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 15:36:15 -0600 From: "Kelly Woestman, Pittsburg State" Reply-To: H-Net List for Teaching College History and Related Fields To: H-TEACH@H-NET.MSU.EDU

Date sent: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 13:20:42 -0600 From: "Keith M. Peckworth"

Colleagues: Over the many years, technology has changed the face of the classroom. Fifteen years ago, instructors had the problem of the new alarm watches going off; as recently as ten years ago word processors were the exception, not the norm for writing papers; Walkman-style headsets frequently disturb; and today, the first laptops enter (usually cautiously) the classroom. As a technology geek, my fellow grad students, instructors, and even undergrads frequently roll their eyes at me and my laptop and say, "oh, you are one of those." However, I have reduced my endless number of notebooks, carry all my lecture notes, and all my dissertation notes on my humble laptop. I have even used my laptop as a form of teleprompter for lecturing. Of course, there are limits to everything. I would not use my laptop during a small seminar or during an interview, but to simply have a policy of "no laptops in a lecture class" discourages innovative use of the technology. Many of our classrooms are now wired for the internet-- I can't see the logic of denying the students the same benefits. Frankly, I think most of the discussion about cell phones, pagers, and laptops has gone on far too long. They are a fact of life. It is up to the students and the instructors to work together on a polite compromise on their use.

Keith M. Peckworth Northern Illinois University "Man vergilt einem Lehrer schlecht, wenn man immer der Schueler bleibt." --Nietzsche

-- Jen Hogan (, February 11, 1999



I agree with you that careful thought needs to go into how the technologies are chosen and to support what educational ends. I'm interested in your response that perhaps collaborative work ought to preced the identification of specific technological supports and use of other technologies which seem to encourage more isolated work. Is reflection or imaginative thought necessitated by collaborative work in front of a computer? If not, what helps prompt such an ends? And what role do you think the computer actually plays?

Best, Jen

-- Jen Hogan (, February 19, 1999.

As Mr. Peckworth points out, cell phones, pagers and laptops are a fact of life. However, at the same time, these devices should not diminish the thought process. People still need to be able to think about and imagine ideas so that they can make technology work. In a such a culture, there might be less of a push for laptops and more of an emphasis on collaborative team work around a computer. That much of the work might be done face-to-face with careful thought and choice going into the process of involving the technology, in this case the laptop, into the project and overall learning endeavor.

I would love to hear people's comments.


-- Kathy Vaughan (, February 16, 1999.

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