It is important to keep in mind that although laptops are very helpful, to some they can become a distraction. In the discussion of laptops, one controversial issue has been the use of laptops in classrooms. On the one hand, in Andrew Goldstein’s essay “Keep Online Poker Out Of The Classroom: Why Professors Should Ban Laptops”, he argues that laptops are extremely distracting and should be banned from all classrooms. On the other hand, Elena Choy’s “Laptops In The Class Room? No Problem”, where she argues that students have the right to use laptops and do what they please with them.
In their writing, both authors give personal examples in regards to why they feel the way they do. Although both arguments were very convincing at first, one argument stood out the most. When analyzing the two arguments, it became clear that one essay was far beyond better argued and organized; the Rogerian Argument Checklist easily backs this up. Elena Choy manages to stay on topic, neutral, and address both sides of the issue; while Goldstein falls short when drawing the reader’s attention to his main points and believes.
Choy begins her argument by listing the arguments in what she takes to be in favor of banning laptops. “In fact, I’ll begin with what I take to be the arguments in favor of banning laptops, I believe the chief arguments are these:” (272). She respectfully introduces the other side before she even gets to hers. She also goes to mention that the upraised lids of laptops have not yet stopped her from making eye contact with students (272). In addition, her many years in the teaching industry have lead her to believe that students are in control of their own studies and time.
Contrary to Choy, Goldstein makes it clear that laptops in the classrooms have no good use. “I see screens that show that students are playing poker…and I confess that I myself have done all these things”(269). Goldstein admits that he is also a victim of the use of laptops during lectures. He also adds, “I have therefore come to the conclusion –based on my experience…that professors should ban laptops from the lecture hall” (270). As a final point, he concluded that due to his experiences laptops should be banned for the better of the students.
More over, Goldstein also states that students who use laptops during a lecture, never contribute to discussions. Yet, Choy assures that discussions are an extremely minor part of certain classes and that many students prefer not to talk during class. Furthermore, Goldstein brings up a great point that needs to be addressed. As stated before, from his view he can see students playing games, shopping online, or reading and writing emails which causes him distraction. In Choy’s argument, she takes into consideration such distractions. Do the users of laptops in class significantly damage other students?
If so, of course laptops should be banned, just as we ban smoking in the classroom. I have heard students say that the poker games they see on the other screens of other students prevent them from paying attention to the lecture, but I find it hard to take this objection seriously. Such students should stop peeking, should discipline themselves, should look at the lecture, and should occupy themselves by taking their own notes (272). Clearly, she has a better understanding on the behavior of such students that tend to be in other people’s business.
In addition, taking into account that Goldstein is a freshman at a University and Choy is a professor, and that she might be aware of things that Goldstein might not be. She points out that “It has been my experience that the call to ban laptops chiefly comes not from the students but from their professors, my colleagues” (273).
Students are not the ones trying to take action or complaining, but rather the professors. Maybe the students using the laptops are not the problem, but more so the teachers (273). In making this comment, Choy argues that, If the instructor is so boring that the students use laptops to shop and to write letters, well, when the laptops are banned the students will probably bring in crossword puzzles or from other courses (for instance, Spanish vocabulary lists to be memorized) or whatever, and continue to ignore the lecturer (274).
Choy obviously believes that the students using the laptops are not the ones to be blame for the “distractions”, but rather what is causing them to use them. Most importantly, Choy grants to us a possible cure to the problem.
Choy herself writes, “A professor should ask himself a hard question: If students in my course are using laptops for purposes unrelated to the course, what am I doing wrong? ”(274). She also proposes that perhaps they should videotape a lecture or two so that they can see and hear what they look and sound like. Alternatively, perhaps ask colleagues to visit a few classes and evaluate them. Choy is well aware of what some students go through when it comes down to taking notes and paying attention in class.
It is very hard to stay focused when your professor is putting more than half the class to sleep. Rather than falling asleep and perhaps losing points on that subject because of such reason, it is more convenient to use the laptops to pursue other activities. To conclude, personally speaking I believe that Elena Choy’s “Laptops In The Classroom? No Problem” is far beyond better than Goldstein’s. Not only does it conform to the Rogerian Argument Checklist but also does her well laid out format.
Choy’s theory of keeping laptops in the classroom is extremely useful because it sheds insight on the difficult problem of note taking and paying attention during a lecture. Goldstein happens to fall behind arguing his side of the argument and viewing other perspectives. Very lightly does he show any aspects of other positions and thus demonstrating lack of open mindedness. Moreover, it seemed to me as if he had very little familiarity with the issue at hand. Not only has Choy provided a desirable cure to the problem, but she has also treated other views with much respect.
Courtney from Study Moose
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