The ban on all laptop computers iPads and…

The ban on all laptop computers, iPads and smartphones in lectures by the Public Relations Institute of Tallinn Technical University raises, in addition, to the more obvious questions (e.g. was the university right to do that; why should everyone suffer for the folly of some), a much more interesting one concerning teaching and learning.

In essence, the university is approaching the problem from the wrong angle. Instead of figuring out how to limit using certain ubiquitous items, the institute should instead figure out a way to capitalise on said items in the educational process. One might argue here that the institute should also find a way to implement Coke cans in teaching (because people have them in lectures, for example), but it is obvious that computers and phones ARE used for studying by most students (whereas Coke cans are not). Thus, by banning them from lectures, you are effectively creating a barrier for learning (even though the aim is exactly the opposite), as people will not be able to use their usual tools during lectures. You are making studying more difficult for many.

The ideal solution would be to use the computing capacity in the lecture hall to make the process of teaching more interactive (allow chat in Google Presentations for a parallel discussion; make online polls etc) and challenge the students on their ground. Instead, the Institute has chosen to continue on their conservative path.

(There is also the problem of boredom, i.e. if the students find it easier to surf Facebook instead of joining in the discussion – if there is one in the first place – there is something wrong in the first place.)