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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Failure to Communicate: Solitaire, minesweeper, and the art of looking attentive

The Carolinian -- This August all fulltime freshmen entering UNCG will be required to purchase a laptop, and I fully expect professors to start complaining about it by early September. UNCG really hasn't thought through the ramifications of force-feeding new computers to thousands of freshmen.

This laptop initiative is another one of UNCG's power-trip ideas, and it's a bad one. Why? Because if you want or need a laptop and can afford a laptop, you'll buy a laptop on your own. If you don't want or need one ? you see where I'm going with this. None of that matters now, of course. UNCG made your decision for you.

It's kind of a bum deal for students who already own desktops but have to buy laptops anyway. It's not so bad, aside from the university forcing you to shell out a couple thousand on something you plainly don't need. The only possible reason for this requirement is that they want us to carry our computers to class, and therein lies our drama.

Last March June Entman, a University of Memphis law professor, banned laptops from her class, claiming students "were focusing on trying to transcribe every word that I was saying, rather than thinking and analyzing." Never have I had a professor complain that I was taking notes too well. I guess that's what Provost Edward Uprichard meant when he called the laptop initiative "technology-enhanced learning".

Be warned UNCG professors, this is about to happen to you. It's not our fault. Blame the university.

Paying too much attention is a problem, apparently, but some of us very much prefer to pay none, and our university overlords need to understand this fact right now: "Technology-enhanced learning" walks hand-in-hand with technology-enhanced goofing off. Full column


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