What are You Doing in Class?

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In a technologically advanced society, it’s normal for students to bring their laptop, tablets, iPads, etc. to class. While these devices are strictly meant to enhance the learning experience during class time, students often use them for other purposes.

We’ve all done it. You’re sitting in a boring lecture or an “irrelevant” class and can’t seem to stop yourself from browsing through every corner of the web. From Facebook and Tumblr, to Buzzfeed and Reddit, you’ll do anything to divert your attention away from the humdrum lesson, even if it means discretely watching an episode of Friends during a 300-person lecture. Or maybe, you’re so overwhelmed with assignments that you have to use class time to get things done. You catch up on emails, or maybe quickly complete the homework that’s due later in the day. Whatever it is, you’re certainly not using your laptop for the class you’re in.

Have you ever wondered what professors think you’re doing when they see your laptop opened? Do they know you’re checking your Twitter TL? Do they think you’re taking notes? Do they assume you’re doing other work? Valley was able to gain some insight on this matter.

We asked Joseph Bauman, a lecturer in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese what he thinks students are doing when they have their laptop opened in class.

“It’s not so much what I think they’re doing; I know what they’re doing. I see a lot of students doing work for other classes (writing papers, reading articles, doing homework, etc.). I guess on some level, it’s good that I don’t see a lot of Facebook or things like that. And maybe they’re doing homework for my class when they’re in other classes,” Bauman says.

Janet Van Hell, professor of Psychology and Linguistics, offers another aspect to this discussion. She tells Valley that she believes her students are following along with the power point slides she provides before each lesson. There was one incident, she explains, when two students were laughing at their laptop during a lecture that was not at all funny. She had to tell them after class how distracting their laughter was, at which they profusely apologized. Professor Van Hell doesn’t think students realize that professors are trying to engage with each student, even in a bigger class. When students are distracted by something else, the professor becomes distracted.

For junior Sarah Malanoski, this rings all too true. One time, she didn’t realize her professor was standing behind her when she was clearly not using her laptop for educational purposes. Naturally, her professor called her out and she had to admit that she was taking a Buzzfeed quiz, “Which Disney Princess are You”? Needless to say, after this embarrassing moment, Sarah became more cautious of her internet usage during class.

While it may be difficult to pay attention during class, Valley encourages you to close your laptop and see how much you can actually absorb from a lesson when social media and other amusements do not sidetrack you.