What If: Computers were installed into every lecture hall seat

Photo by Azat Bayandin / The Peak

Written by: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate

Most modern students live off the technology we live with, but if we got computers in every lecture hall, I know a ton of instructors would be rightfully annoyed. I’ve taken courses with professors who ban computers, phones, and tablets, and many keep citing studies which claim that laptops don’t help students in lectures. The fact is, though, that computers are prominent enough in our student lives that for them to be someday waiting for us in every lecture seat is far from unimaginable.

Cynical instructors might find tactics to cut computer use in lecture, such as handwriting projects and drawing lots of diagrams. They may be stuck doing more open-book tests, though, just to compensate for their inability to take these computers away.

Courses which require computers would benefit, and tutorials where TAs teach about software might disappear, as their content could be added into lectures. TAs would see their office hours and teaching time cut too, since everything’s going to happen a tad faster. If lectures also speed up and take less time, then lecture halls might be unoccupied for longer stretches, so they could even double as computer labs when they’re available — who knows?

The big downside, though, would be a possible tuition increase to help fund everything, from the IT department’s labour to the infrastructural changes needed to route electricity to so many new computers.

It’d be convenient and interesting to have certain computers in every lecture, but it wouldn’t be easy and it might not be worth it. After all, we already have enough construction and renovations around campus.