Laptops: a useful tool or a hindrance to students in the classroom?
Laptops can just as easily be a distracting tool to take your mind off things as it can be one of the most productive tools in the classroom. The increase in dependency on technology, especially after online school in the previous year, brings about concern from teachers about students using their technology appropriately.
But Jalen Reyes (11) believes that teachers do not have anything to be concerned about. Her laptop’s main function is to aid in her quest to get her academics done. “[My laptop] is more for schoolwork or research or anything that requires a laptop… normally it’s just school,”
Bringing laptops to school has the ability to make doing school work much more efficient. So much so that students like Reyes are noticing “more teachers are being lenient with [laptops]” even though there is the risk of students getting easily distracted.
First year English teacher Ms. Luong shows her faith in her students, trusting them to know and do the right thing.
“Well usually it’s pretty obvious when someone’s not on task, and I’ll just ask them to shut it off and put it away,” Ms.Luong says. “If you’re not getting the content you’re supposed to be getting, you’re gonna be lost… if you choose to be on your laptop and not pay attention to what we’re learning, in the long run, that’s affecting you.”
Just as easily as laptops can distract, they can also bring about major academic improvement by making it easier for students to stay organized. Ian Lorenzo (12) brings his laptop to school daily, using it for the convenience of being able to finish all of his school assignments.
“I start working and doing my homework…It helps me organize my things, and I have easy access to everything I need.” Lorenzo explains. “It’s much easier to write down my notes and look at what I need to do for school without having to constantly lug around a textbook or other folders full of papers and handouts from my teachers.”
Bringing a laptop to school all the time might be more of a hassle, seeing how sometimes, there are Chromebooks available. With all those resources available, why would students still find the need to consistently bring their potentially heavy, expensive computers to school? In Reyes’ point of view, it has to do with the disadvantages of those shared Chromebooks.
“Whenever we enter a classroom or leave a classroom, all teachers make you hand sanitize your hands, but that doesn’t necessarily account for the in between the class when you touch things, and that includes laptops,” says Reyes, “Because there are multiple classes that use Chrome carts throughout the day, there are endless germs and bacteria and people touching it. But when it’s your laptop, it’s your own personal [one]. Unless you know you’ve given it to someone, only you have touched it.”
“[Chromebooks] suck. They’re slower, and not every classroom has them… all my files are on my computer,” says Lorenzo. As someone who has most of his work on his personal account, Lorenzo finds it frustrating that “If I sign into the Chromebook, it’s going to use my school account, not my personal [account].”
While certain students have doubts about the speed, cleanliness, and accessibility of the school’s Cromebooks, ultimately, they achieve what needs to be done in the classroom. And with all the distractions personal laptops bring around, why wouldn’t teachers force students to only use the distraction free Chromebooks instead of their own personal laptops?
“It doesn’t matter what system they’re using, so if they’re more comfortable writing their essay on a laptop they brought, I don’t really care,” Ms. Luong explains. “Definitely [more easily distracted], but it’s about trust, right? You choose to waste that time, that’s not on me, that’s on you. So yes, students can be more tempted but [teachers] hope that they’re not.”
Despite a growing acceptance of laptops in classrooms, students still have to be careful with them for other reasons.
“I personally only bring it when I know I have my backpack on me all day, so I always leave it in my backpack and I never leave it unattended,” Reyes says. “I normally lock my bag in one of the band rooms so it’s secure. I know some people lock their laptops in their lockers, but I don’t.”
No matter the amount of risks there are, students continuously bring their laptops because it seems that the pros outweigh the cons.
Lorenzo rejoices at the fact that, “It replaces my textbooks, which makes my backpack lighter,”
Vikrant Bhalla (10) says on a similar note, “[Technology] is also easy because I can also take notes on my phone and it’s just easier overall. I can have half my backpack on my phone and no need for textbooks because I can just carry the PDFs [instead].
Laptops in classrooms can be a good thing. At the end of the day, it all depends on the hands they are placed in and how those hands use it. Teachers can now rest assured, knowing that their angel students work productively when laptops are in their hands. But then again, who’s gonna know when there are fallen angels?