Pen and paper is as outdated as quill and ink. Class begins and, like a game of Guess Who, laptops flip open. Portable computers are an easy and efficient way to take notes, especially when lectures run at the speed of light. However, laptops mean quick access to millions of online and social media distractions and a second spent checking the latest tweets or the person outbidding you on eBay never really lasts a second. Before you know it, you are packing up your things and saying farewell to another class that has you more updated on who’s doing what this weekend.
A recent study published in Computers & Education suggests that using computers during lectures could be doing more harm than good and can have a direct effect on a student’s grades and could potentially be lowering their classmates’ marks. The study conducted two experiments designed to gauge how laptops lead to multitasking and how multitasking leads to distraction.
“We found that, lo and behold, the students who multitasked performed much worse on the final test,” Faria Sana, co-author of the study, said in an interview with the Globe and Mail published Aug. 14. Checking emails, updating statuses, playing games and watching movies is all something students have seen other students do during lectures. “Seeing dozens of laptops in a class is now common,” said Sana and leads to “a lot of students spending a chunk of their time in class doing things that are not related to the academic environment.”
“Having internet access is what distracts me. I know it’s there so it becomes easy to get carried away,” said Natasha Reda, an English literature student at Concordia University. “If I didn’t have access, I would probably listen more and take better notes.”
For students who go the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, laptops are as much of a distraction because spying on your classmates Pinterest page or Facebook news feed is inevitable.
Paying attention can be challenging, especially after a long summer. “We’re hoping that based on the results, students will take responsibility for their actions,” Sana told the Globe and Mail.
Concordia Counselling and Development offers learning services that give students tips on improving concentration and note-taking strategies. Laptops may seem like the most productive tool to have during lectures but unless you have the willpower to keep from unrelated websites and tasks, your laptop may literally be failing you. Multitasking is never a good idea, so start the semester off right and reevaluate how you spend your time in class.
For more tips, attend the Counselling and Development’s workshop on Wednesday Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m. in H-440, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd W.