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Laptops are Always Open in BLHS

This+group+is+hard+at+work+in+marketing+class.+Senior+Peyton+discusses+with+his+group+about+the+marketing.+
This group is hard at work in marketing class. Senior Peyton discusses with his group about the marketing.

This group is hard at work in marketing class. Senior Peyton discusses with his group about the marketing.

This group is hard at work in marketing class. Senior Peyton discusses with his group about the marketing.

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Over four long years of high school many changes occur around me. Business classes came to the school. Jarred Fuhrman became the principal. Kids could wear shirts that showed their shoulder when Mary Myer left. But the greatest change of all came when the administration decided to issue laptops to students.

The current senior class is split between time with a laptop and time without one. In freshman and sophomore year, students had to check out laptops either from the library, track down one of the carts that contained a limited number of laptops, or use one of the stationary desktop computers found in a handful of rooms. With these limited options, most students simply did not use computers on a day-to-day basis. We resorted to writing notes by hand and we always had a pencil on hand. It was a very different kind of learning that everyone had to grow accustomed to.

One of the pillars of former history teacher Steve Hopkins’s classes was that writing notes by hand helped the brain to better remember information. This lead to his students having notebooks full of notes and worksheets, but it was his style of teaching nonetheless. The real question is whether his methods actually worked.

A study at the University of Oklahoma’s engineering program observed students under a new policy requiring all students to carry laptops for use in class. Due to this being a new policy, not all students were able to afford a laptop or chose not to have one. As they completed the course, the group of students with laptops achieved a higher grade point average in the class than the group that did not have laptops. The laptops proved beneficial in the classroom.

The facts for this college campus may point to laptops as a positive, but the effect of laptops is very different when applied to high school students. It’s no secret that high schoolers are still maturing and learning how to learn, but a laptop in the hands of an adolescent can be just as much a tool as it can be a hinderance.

When studying for a test or simply doing work, the process is very different for those who use laptops and those who do not. A student that studies paper notes has to write out every not and carry those notes with them wherever they go, but they have a much lower chance of being distracted. Those who copy and paste their notes and study them on their computer have a much higher chance of being distracted because of all of the things to do online, but have their notes available at the click of the mouse. The availability of the notes does not eclipse the distraction of the internet at your fingertips.

The administration has recognized this distraction and taken steps to eliminate it. Sites like Youtube, Netflix, streaming websites, gaming websites, and many more have been blocked, but this still does not solve the problem. There will always be distracting websites and it is impossible for the administration to block every single one of them. So now it all comes down to whether the utility of the laptops outweigh the distraction of them.

As a young student, it is easy to be distracted. Bloons Tower Defense is a fun game, and the still unblocked and easily accessible. Whenever a teacher gives us a lecture and I have my computer in front of me, I get nothing from that lecture. The laptops are a gift to students in order to open up new ways of learning. It makes it easier for students to complete projects and connects them to their teachers in a new web of communication. But when it comes to listening in class, the laptops are very much an obstacle for learning. So, like all good things, too much of it can be a bad thing. If teachers want students to listen, they need to  tell their students to put down their computers. And on the student side, they should learn to close their laptops when the lesson turns interactive.

The laptops seem like a success for BLHS, but if we continue down our current track of further allowing the laptops to be open at all times, the interactive element of class will slowly die. No matter how much information there is on the internet, the best way to learn is to listen in class and engage in the learning.

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Laptops are Always Open in BLHS