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More wired than a Roman Internet café

One of our members wrote to me recently that this is the first year some of her college students are bringing laptops to class. Is this happening to other teachers here on eClassics? If so, are they distracting? How are they being used? Have you established policies regarding laptops in the classroom?

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All of our students have them--high school students. We give them to all students. They are awesome---they allow the use of so many more resources. As for policies, yes, they are firmly established, school wide. You Tube, Facebook and My Space are blocked in school--for teachers as well as students. If a teacher says, "lids down," students must immediately close their Macbooks. I find that the students are very respectful and do so.
Absolutely, they should be let in as any textbook such as Allen and Greenough or Symth's Greek Grammar. During last Latin course I took, the tests were timed and any book including Lewis and Short were allowed on the exams. The only thing that was prohibited was talking in class or showing your paper to anyone in the class.

The problem for the student is just this: if you come to class unprepared believing that your laptop or Lewis and Short and Allen and Greenough are going to save you you are dead wrong. Why? Because everytime you open Lewis and Short the clock is ticking away the seconds. So basically if you havent been doing you course work, you're not going to finish translating the text on the final exam.
I find too often students use them to chat or do other things in class. Also, when in a language class, some students have been caught (not by me) as looking up translations online instead of providing their own. As a student I know that in a lecture when you are stuck sitting behind someone with a laptop and they are playing games instead of doing work, it can be very distracting.
As for teaching, I am only a Teaching Assistant, so I have not banned them or anything in my seminars. The students who have them, however, participate the least and the marks reflect that. I think they should only be in lecture halls in the final rows or in designated seats only to minimize disruption to other students.
Mostly, I'm just glad that the keyboards on the laptops are much quieter than they used to be!

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