USING A LAPTOP COMPUTER IN CLASS

Using a laptop computer to take notes in class is a rapidly growing phenomenon on the college scene.  My policy is to allow their use in class, provided the user accepts the fact that if I discover that it is being used for a purpose other than that of the class, I will not permit the user to bring it to class in the future.  In addition, neither laptop computers nor any other electronic device will be permitted to be used, or, for that matter, even switched on, during a quiz or an examination.

However, I do not at this time encourage that laptop computers be brought to class, in spite of their clear benefits.  Like so many things in life, laptop computers have their advantages and disadvantages (suggested below), and I personally believe that at present and specifically at SCCC they present more disadvantages.

Advantages:

-Good typists can more rapidly take notes on a keyboard than by hand.

-It is easier to incorporate class lecture notes into textbook outlines or other pre-worked resources than doing so by hand.

-Searching your notes is much easier and faster than trying to find something in your handwritten notes.

-The internet (including this website!) is at your disposal during class, so you can research on the spot during class discussions, or to satisfy your curiosity about the subject.

-Resource material, such as preparation questions during the examination prep classes, do not have to be printed ahead of time, saving paper and time.

-Many textbooks are now available either online or in electronic format at far lower prices than purchasing.

-With many laptops it is possible to voice record the lecture at the same time you are taking notes.

Disadvantages:

-Note taking often involves drawing diagrams or other schematics, and most laptops are not equipped for this (a notable exception is the "tablet" or "touchscreen" computer, but these are difficult to find in a reasonable price range).

-Very few laptop batteries will consistently power your computer for the number of hours you will need it to manage hours of lectures every week, and SCCC (in the great majority of its classrooms) is not set up so that more than one or two students are able to plug their computers in during the lecture.

-As portable as a laptop may be, it is still somewhat clumsy to balance on the small sidearm desks provided in most SCCC classrooms.  I witnessed a student accidentally knock his laptop onto the floor when he turned to give something to the student behind him.

-NOTE: many of the latest ultra-tiny laptops will run far longer on their batteries; and many are "solid state," using the same storage technology as a "flashdrive" instead of a battery eating, whirring "hard drive." They are far more suitable for classroom use, but their storage is limited, their screens are quite small and many users find their keyboards too small to type on without becoming rapidly fatigued.

-Laptops are easily stolen, so you must keep track of them at all times.

-Laptops are better built than ever, but they are still susceptible to breakage, overheating and humidity, so (as in the previous note) they require a lot of babysitting.

-If they do break, you may lose all the data that you have not backed up.

-A laptop connected to the internet is a "distraction machine."  You may find yourself unable to resist all that is available to you, ultimately causing your academic standing more harm than good.