BY HANNAH CRITES
Students and instructors returned from their summer holiday to find that they had access to Wi-Fi in the academic buildings at Franciscan University. “I was here during the summer,” said senior Sarah Swauger, “then all of the sudden we had Wi-Fi and it was a surprise.”
Students now have the ability to access the Internet via their laptops, smart phones and other electronic devices, sparking concern among many instructors.
“For years I had a no-cellphones policy,” said Dr. Kevin Miller, a theology instructor, “I said I don’t want to see, hear or detect cellphone use. This year I expanded it to all other devices, including laptops and tablets.”
The only exception Miller made was the use of e-readers for electronic textbooks. “I reserve the right to check their screens to make sure that that’s what they’re looking at and not something else,” said Miller.
Miller isn’t the only instructor who is changing his policies, and other professors remain cautious about students using laptops in class.
“I do not have a new policy this semester,” said Communication Arts instructor Dr. James Coyle, “but I’m paying more attention and watching, hoping it’s not getting out of control.”
Many students argue that they are able to multitask while taking notes in class. However, some research has shown that laptop use negatively affects students in the classroom. A study published by McMaster University found that students who use laptops to multitask during class have lower grades than those who do not. Moreover, the study found that the distraction caused by laptop use can negatively impact the grades of students around them.
“The student is doing a disservice to other people in the class as well as the instructor when they’re distracting other students, sometimes laughing and pointing at the laptop when nothing humorous is going on as far as the content of the class,” said Coyle. “But that’s been going on since students started bringing laptops. Now they just have access to the World Wide Web.”
However, some students find taking notes on a laptop is more convenient than using a pen and paper. “I don’t like writing out my notes,” said Swauger. “I can’t write everything, and it’s easier to type.”
“Learn to use it effectively,” said Coyle. “Wi-Fi doesn’t help with taking notes, but if the class is interactive and questions come up and the answers aren’t in the lecture notes but are on the web, it could be useful.”