Ole Miss Journalism

Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media

Laptop use in the classroom is a positive thing, say Mississippi professors

Sinclair Rishel

In our modern society, technology is nearly impossible to avoid.  It has penetrated social interaction, workplace environments and even classrooms.  Many students generally support laptop use in the classroom, but what do professors say?

Dr. Heather Annulis, a professor  in the Human Capital Development program at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), said she has no issues with laptops.

“My students are highly motivated and generally overachievers.  The laptop is a technology-enabled tool that allows my students to do their work more efficiently. “

More and more professors are beginning to support, and even require, laptop use in the classroom. The Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi has recently begun to require their students to have their own laptops.

“We think that if a student has his or her own laptop they can have the information with them and don’t have to depend on having access to a lab to do their work,” said Dr. Will Norton, dean of the Meek School.

Some see this support as a logical move, since the amount of laptop use has “increased exponentially” over the last five to 10 years, according to Dr. M.D. Sarder, another associate professor at USM, who teaches Industrial Engineering Technology.

“I have been a professor for 13 years.  When I first began teaching, no students used laptops.  Today, almost all students use laptops in the classroom.  When they arrive for class, the first thing they do is fire up the laptop,” said Annulis.

A common concern about student laptop use is an increased potential for distraction.  Social media, games, and even other classwork can distract students from the lesson at hand and are all supported by laptops.

“Some [professors] wonder if students are paying attention,” said USM’s Dr. David Holt.

Another potential problem is increased cheating.  With the Internet literally at their fingertips, students may find it tempting to make use of the thousands of cheating aids available.  However, according to Sarder and Holt, professors have many methods of preventing cheating, including plagiarism monitors such as LanSchool and TurnitIn, as well as strategies such as timing tests or giving them on paper to cut out opportunities for cheating.

Overall, these professors are pro technology.

“I do think the benefits outweigh the downsides.  Students are able to capture important items in the laptop and then utilize the information quickly for assignments.  The polished formatting that laptops provide students for assignments is appreciated when I grade assignments,” said Annulis.

Sarder agreed.

“Absolutely. We can design our lessons and assessment so that laptop uses are conducive for the class.”

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This entry was posted on November 14, 2013 by in Rishel.
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