Technology in the Classroom… Not as Great as You Think

September 1, 2011 Op-Eds, Opinion

Rollins’ new “paperless initiative” is a litt le like a biodegradable spork – an efficient and environmentally friendly idea in theory but not always a reliable or effective tool. I am as green as the next person, and I love the idea that Rollins is committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility. But in the classroom, a paperless-only policy can shortchange both students and professors.

When I started my classes this semester, I didn’t even bother to buy notebooks, planning to take all of my notes on my handy MacBook Pro. My first realization that too much reliance on technology might lead to trouble in the classroom occurred when my MacBook malfunctioned and shut down three days into classes. It’s been in IT ever since, along with all of my saved assignments, papers and notes.

The main problem is that electronic communication too oft en sets up an invisible barrier between students and professors. I am always dismayed when a professor requires emailed papers instead of hard copies because the chances are excellent that the grade will be emailed back with little or no elaboration. Have you ever wondered why some professors have such strident policies on the use of laptops in the classroom? Let’s face it: it’s nearly impossible to have a laptop open in front of you during a particularly dry lecture and not be tempted to check your email, chat on Facebook, or tweet about how bored you are. But I’ll also be the first to admit that I have jeopardized my grades by doing so. As Michelle Preston ‘13 put it, “I got a lower grade in a class I could have easily received an A on because I spent every class period on stumbleupon.com. I had a great time, but my GPA wasn’t so great.”

Professors expect students to pay attention to them in class, and students have the right to expect professors to give feedback on their work. Paperless classrooms can be convenient and environmentally friendly, but paperless should be an option, not a mandate.

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