Using Laptops in the Classroom as a Teaching Tool

Since I shared the first couple of emails in the current debate at UNM about laptops, I asked Alfred Mathewson if I could share his response.  He is working on using the lap tops as a teaching tool! 

“I am probably moving in the opposite direction of most of my colleagues here and in most law schools.  I am experimenting with the laptops.  While I am concerned about the extent to which they may be used to distract students, I think we must conceive of laptops as something more than notepads.  In many classes, notetaking is the only pedagogical use of the laptop.  I have been experimenting with other uses in the classroom.  If the laptops are going to be in the classroom, we should make use of them.  I am currently reviewing an online interactive casebook for Civil Procedure in case I teach it again. In Contracts this fall, I plan to experiment with bringing my laptop to class rather than using the big screen for Power Point presentations. I will use a TWEN course site. They will be able to annotate the PowerPoint but they will have no need to spend course time copying the slides. They will, however, have to use the laptop to see the PowerPoint. As I see it, we must prepare students to practice in an era far more technologically advanced than the one in which we were educated.” 

2 Responses

  1. This is a good attitude. Like calculators or anything else, I think the key is to sift good uses from bad. Obviously kids shouldn’t be encouraged to cheat using technology, but I’m sure adults are sneaky enough to figure out ways to prevent that.

  2. I like newspapers and iPhones, too, and I think they are really important means of communication. Lawyers should learn to employ them properly. Still, I suspect that most students will be better off if their colleagues don’t spend time looking at either during classes, at least most of the time.

    Of course, I applaud Alfred’s truly creative efforts to find out the best uses for these and other forms of classroom technology. Should he succeed in finding such uses, it won’t be the first time that my teaching practices will change as a result of his innovation.

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