Are students in your school allowed to bring their own laptops? Some teachers not only oppose the idea of students working on laptops, they also stage dramatic in-class performances to intimidate students (even at college) from bringing their laptops to class.

Hat tip to Berlin Fang for sharing this video. Berlin gave a great presentation yesterday at the Heartland eLearning Conference here in Oklahoma, on the mobile learning and technology integration work of faculty, staff and students at Oklahoma Christian University. My notes from his session with Luke Hartman are available.

I’d like to know more backstory to this video. Certainly the desire (on the part of faculty / teachers) to CONTROL the learning environment so it mirrors a traditional, entirely teacher-directed environment is strong in many classrooms.

More empty classroom stuff, UMBC
Creative Commons License photo credit: sidewalk flying

As Yoda explains to Luke in “The Empire Strikes Back,” we must “unlearn” some of what we have learned as students.

Complete control over the student in the learning environment is not and should not be considered a hallmark of educational excellence. As educators, we are ultimately working to empower our students to make good choices and become autonomous learners on their own. We are training the next generation of Jedi. Of course classroom control and classroom management are vitally important, we cannot teach amdist chaos. Total control, however, is a myth and should not be held up as the ideal at the university or the K-12 level.

Apparently the teacher in the YouTube video shown above was a Sith Lord. Hopefully there aren’t many of these at your school. Trust me, they’re are difficult lot to deal with.

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9 Responses to A professor who takes laptop banning too far

  1. Berlin says:

    Thank you very much for continuing the discussion of this topic. As I said, I think there are better strategies out there to transform gadgets into tools for learning. Love that Yoda clip!

  2. Hollis says:

    Something tells me that a professor who implements that kind of strategy will have many interesting discussions with the legal team of their college’s risk management department. (although that video was, allegedly, staged).

    Students these days are connected in so many different ways–isn’t laptop use, in some ways, a useful barometer of whether we’re actually teaching them effectively? If we can actually hold their interest, I doubt they’ll be paying attention to Facebook.

  3. Apparently this took place at the University of Oklahoma. I was really disappointed and embarrassed when I saw this a few weeks ago. It was somewhat of a staged stunt using a disabled laptop, but he made it very clear how he felt. Should we ban pencils since they could also be used for something not related to class? What about paper? It’s entirely possible for a student to use these tools in concert to either take notes of a live lecture, or work on a project for another class. I’m particularly disturbed that students at the collegiate level would be told that note-taking on a laptop is unacceptable. It would be enough for me to never take one of his classes.

  4. Ross Fischer says:

    I would guess that if he were that passionate in all of his lessons he woudn’t need to worry about kids using their laptops inappropriately.

  5. I see this and I see book burning.

  6. magnethart says:

    It’s sad to see that this is the direction that some professors have chosen to travel. That to me comes across as someone who is more fearful of the power of technology than someone who is willing to embrace it. What message is he really sending to those students? I agree with Joshua Williams, this would discourage me from ever taking a class from this professor and would probably look to see if there was another professor I could transfer into.

  7. Kathy says:

    And who is paying for that education? The professor? Why does he have the right to dictate what a student brings to class? If he keeps students engaged, he won’t have to worry about what else they might be doing in class. And if the student chooses to be disengaged, and isn’t interfering with anyone else’s learning, that’s the student’s choice. Just by dictating what a student can and can’t bring to and use in class isn’t going to make that class any more or less meaningful. Perhaps he needs to examine his teaching practices and stop trying to be control freak!

  8. […] think I’d go so far as to say banning laptops is the right answer. Wesley Fryer, in his post “A professor who takes laptop banning too far” says […]

  9. […] This video was downloaded from youtube using since youtube is blocked within the district.  You can access the original video here.  Thank you to Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) for posting this video in his blog and giving some great commentary.  Check out Wesley’s blog, Moving At the Speed of Creativity. […]

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