If you’re a student, you might already be put off by this headline. But before you make any judgements, have a read through these evidence-based pros and cons of allowing laptops in classrooms. Let’s check them out in detail.

The Pros

According to a meta-analysis of 10 published studies by Binbin Zheng, an assistant professor at Michigan State University, students who use laptops in class generally see improved performance in numerous subjects like science, math, and English.

They also tend to research using a wider range of resources, revise and share their work more frequently, and receive more feedback from their teachers.

Furthermore, research from Stanford University states that using technology during lessons encourages active student participation and engagement. More than half of 336 students from this study strongly agreed that they learned more and better when using interactive websites such as LectureTools.

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Undeniably, technology is becoming an increasingly significant part of our world today. As AISB MYP Coordinator Andrew Pontius explains, “Students will live in a world with advanced technology and ignoring [the effectiveness of] laptops is ignoring the students’ future and the main point of education.”

The Cons

An alternate option for taking notes on laptop is to write on paper. Although some argue that typing important points helps them learn more effectively, and more quickly, this may not be entirely true.

According to a study at Princeton University and UCLA, students who typed their notes performed significantly worse on answering conceptual questions compared to those who took notes by hand.

This is because the laptop group typed the class contents without processing the information, which greatly affected their understanding of the concepts.

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Moreover, laptops can become more of a distraction than a learning tool. According to one experiment from Michigan University, students who had access to one spent nearly 40 minutes out of a 100-minute class on social media, YouTube, and shopping websites.

Faria Sana from McMaster University also observed that seeing other peers being off-task on their laptops increased the likelihood of the student doing the same, and consequently receiving a lower grade on the final exam.

Students showed decreased performance on the class content comprehension test when distracted peers were in their view.

Final Thoughts

So, how do we find balance? Given the characteristics of the MYP/DP program, it would be difficult to significantly reduce laptop usage in classrooms. Incorporating more interactive activities (such as team-based quizzes, instead of research tasks) in class may be beneficial to the students’ learning. Ultimately, it is the students who hold the responsibility to use their laptops to their advantage.

Tell us: What do you think? Do you learn better when you write or type? Start a conversation below.