Students using their money to pay for classes deserve to learn their way

There are benefits to note-taking by hand, but it’s not how every student learns best

I paid a lot of money for this laptop and I intend to use it. Illustration: Alex Vanderput/The Peak

By: Marco Ovies, Arts Editor

It was the beginning of the semester and I had just walked into my 400-person lecture. Being a fourth-year English major, I’m more used to my classes consisting of 10 to 15 people, but I was really excited to take this 100-level film course. So just like in every other class, I pulled out my reusable water bottle, my coffee, and my laptop, ready to get to work. That is, until the professor informed us that laptops are not allowed in his class. Apparently, they are not only distracting, but also rude because he likes to absolutely make sure we are paying attention. 

While I think it is fair to argue that laptops can be distracting, it’s not fair that this professor  assumed the worst of all of his students. I felt like I was being treated like a child — odd since I’m considered an adult in court and can purchase alcohol. But here was this professor telling me what I can and can’t use in his class with an almost smug smile on his face, watching us all put away our laptops in disappointment. 

It might seem like I’m complaining about a very small inconvenience, but at the end of the day, I spent a decent chunk of money to attend this class. I also spent a decent amount of money on this laptop specifically for school. So why am I not allowed to use the tools that help me learn best? 

According to an op-ed published in daily news outlet seattlepi.com, there are many benefits to using a laptop during lectures. It allows for more effective note taking, which enables students “to index and organize their study material automatically, quickly search for information by keyword and share notes with other students.” Personally, it gives me the ability to fact-check any information within seconds instead of waiting for the professor to notice my raised hand. 

By the time the lecture is over I’ve already forgotten my question, so having the ability to look up information myself in the moment is valuable. I find it especially difficult to be noticed in these large 400-people lecture halls, and quite often my raised hand remains unseen in the sea of students. 

Instead of being able to clearly read and look up material from my own screen, I am stuck squinting at the professor’s lecture slides, frantically writing and trying to keep up with the professor’s insanely dense notes, and desperately waving my hand to be noticed when I have a question. Then I leave class feeling not only exhausted, but disappointed that I had not learned anything properly — all because my professor was upset that I might be using Facebook instead of taking notes. 

If I wanted to be treated like a child, I would have gone to Chuck E. Cheese; it would be a lot cheaper than attending this lecture anyway. But instead, I am being told how I should or shouldn’t learn. 

I feel bad for the tiny first years who are taking classes for the first time. They expect to be treated like adults and are paying to attend this lecture. If I’m spending hundreds of dollars to attend a class, I should be able to at least use my laptop. At a bare minimum there should be a disclaimer in the course description saying that computers are not allowed. Because at the end of the day, it is my money I am spending to be here and I should be able to learn the way I want.