Laptops in the classroom

resistance is futile, part zillion – Text Patterns – The New Atlantis: “My students are in class with me for two-and-a-half hours, 150 minutes, per week. During those 150 minutes I choose to focus on our using, together, the technology of the codex.”

Alan Jacobs hits the spot on why professors ban laptops (and presumably, tablets) in the classroom. I may be considering this for the future, especially when it’s combined with that research showing that note taking goes better in handwriting.

The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher

Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan full 600

Teaching and parenting share this in common: In both relationships, the goal is to produce independent and self-sufficient human beings. The risk that helicopter parents run is that they will raise children so coddled that they have a hard time functioning on their own in the larger world. So too with the way we have infantilized our students. Afraid or unwilling to challenge them, we pass them through with perfectly good grades but without much of a sense of how to work on their own or think for themselves. – The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher

Just to be fair, here’s an acknowledgement that helicopter teaching is also a thing to avoid. Every vocation has its pitfalls.

One for the parents dropping children off at college this weekend


Bye-Bye Birdies: Sending The Kids Away to College – Tenured Radical – The Chronicle of Higher Education: “many faculty see behavior in students (particularly absenteeism, lateness, disorganization and requests for special arrangements) as irresponsible, lazy, dishonest and immature, when in fact students are living, and making decisions, in ways that make complete sense to them and to their parents. So without further ado, here are things you can do as a parent to make your kid a strong and independent college student.”

In short, don’t be helicopter parents! (In fairness, K-12 practices do seem to encourage this but college is not Grade 13.)

Odysseus and the liberal arts?

Odysseus: Patron Hero of the Liberal Arts: “So how will I present this illiterate pagan Odysseus, a man, moreover, with the additional disadvantage of being a fiction, as the patron saint of liberal arts, the arts of interpretation?”

Since Eva Brann is asking the question, her answer is more than worth hearing. TLDR; if we cannot interpret our own lives, they will be interpreted for us by others. And in that case, why bother living?

Computers: yes, but…

“Computers are great, and I not only encourage their use by my students, I try to teach students how to use computers better. But for about three hours a week, we set the computers aside and look at books. It’s not so great a sacrifice.”
– Alan Jacobs, Laptops of the Borg

I’m thinking more and more about a similar policy for the Fall; check out the post for some of the classroom-use considerations, on top of the handwritten notes point that I blogged earlier.

Moleskine over Macbook FTW

Why students using laptops learn less in class even when they really are taking notes

“Writing by hand activates the brain in ways that typing doesn’t to improve learning.”

Always thought this was true; nice to have some evidence to back it up. Even better: it’s an argument for banning the laptops in class! But then that assumes that student longhand is good enough to keep up…

UPDATE: If you like the idea, here’s a set of Moleskine notebooks at Amazon.

Vocational advice for first-year students

How to Find Your Vocation in College | Intercollegiate Review: College is both a place where you learn things and a phase of your life. For many of those with the opportunity to go to college—and never despise those who don’t—it is a transition between childhood, living with your parents, and independent adulthood. So it is a time for seeking, preparing for, and finding vocations. (Not just in the sense of jobs. College can also lead to other vocations, such as marriage or a heightened awareness of your citizenship.)

 One for the BAC incoming students today, as well as the returning ones.

6 Ways the iPhone Changed Higher Ed | Inside Higher Ed

The way to think about the iPhone in relation to higher ed is less as a single product but a new product category. This category, which includes Android/Google and maybe eventually the Windows 8 phones, equals smart phone plus an app ecosystem.

6 Ways the iPhone Changed Higher Ed | Inside Higher Ed

David Karpf: UVA Board’s Lazy Business Sense

A modern-day Good Will Hunting might gain his education through MIT’s online lectures rather than a Boston public library card, but the great mass of privileged 18-year-olds will keep heading off to college. Neither the University of Phoenix nor MIT’s online courses offer a replacement for the college experience that students are currently paying for. And competition does not equal disruption.

David Karpf: UVA Board’s Lazy Business Sense

Measurable Outcomes vs. Higher Education?

Reading tough books carefully—attending to textual details, considering the diverse ways of life of and predicaments faced by the characters, following arguments, writing accurately and thoughtfully about their contents, applying what what you’ve learned to your own way of life and personal predicaments—is usually justified these days by the outcomes of critical thinking and analytic reasoning. I, for one, am impressed by how murky these phrases turn out to be, and how questionable—to say the least—are the standardized devices that have been invented to measure them.

Measurable Outcomes vs. Higher Education?

CARPE DIEM: Today’s Grade-Inflated, Lake Wobegon World; Letter Grade of A Now Most Common College Grade

./mourn… But not in my classes!

CARPE DIEM: Today’s Grade-Inflated, Lake Wobegon World; Letter Grade of A Now Most Common College Grade

The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive

Another one for my students, too often taught to slavishly avoid the passive even when their style or arguments would be improved by it.

The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive