News from the world of continuous partial attention:
Dennis Adams, a computer-systems professor at the University of Houston, was thrilled a few years ago when his school began providing laptop computers to incoming students and set up wireless Internet access in classrooms. But in the past year, his enthusiasm has turned to dismay.From an article in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Reporter Gary McWilliams goes on to note that many professors hesitate to ban laptops in class for fear of retaliation in student evaluations.
A recent visit to his class--where about half the 26 students are using laptops--explains why. While Prof. Adams lectures, five students use an online chat room to post comments on his lecture, on classroom stragglers, and on the meaning of his discussion questions. Another student spends nearly two-thirds of the three-hour class playing computer chess, instant messaging and viewing photos of a fraternity party posted on the Web. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Mike Fielden buys a pair of sneakers on eBay.
LINK: "The Laptop Backlash"