Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls

Jose Bowen, dean of SMU's Meadows School of the Arts, provides expertise for a Washington Post story about laptops being banned from classrooms.

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer

On a windy morning in downtown Washington, a hundred Georgetown Law students gathered in a hall for David Cole's lecture on democracy and coercion. The desks were cluttered with books, Thermoses and half-eaten muffins.

Another item was noticeable in its absence: laptop computers. They were packed away under chairs, tucked into backpacks, powered down and forgotten.

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. . .

José A. Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, is removing computers from lecture halls and urging his colleagues to "teach naked" -- without machines. Bowen says class time should be used for engaging discussion, something that reliance on technology discourages. 

Read the full story.

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