May 232010
 
Digital classroom II
Image by larskflem via Flickr

Despite the distraction potential of laptops in college classrooms, new research shows that they can actually increase students’ engagement, attentiveness, participation and learning.

To achieve this, however, the instructor must set the right stage, says University of Michigan professor Perry Samson.

Samson is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences who has received honors for his educational technology work.

He has developed robust interactive student response system called LectureTools that utilizes students’ laptops. A paper about how students report that LectureTools affected their learning is published in the May edition of the journal Computers & Education.

“If you allow laptops in the classroom without a plan for how you’ll use them, you can potentially invite disaster. It’s unlikely that students will be so entranced by class material that they won’t wander off to their favorite social networking sites,” Samson said. “The key is to deliberately engage students through their computers. LectureTools does just that.”

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