To be successful in their studies, students should forget their laptop at home!

Laptops are everywhere on campuses around the world, and it is unimaginable not to own one as a student. Students usually consider a personal laptop as a requirement to perform studies, without being fully aware that misusing it could have a negative impact on exams.

Laptops are undoubtedly useful to enhance the learning experience of online courses, for Internet research, and to facilitate and smooth communication, mainly asynchronously. However, many students take their computer to classes in order to annotate documents or take notes. Yet, they should abstain from taking their laptop or tablet into class!

Research shows evidence that it is more efficient to take notes in longhand rather than on a personal computer or tablet!

Laptops can harm the student learning experience when used in the classroom, according to recent studies. Indeed, studies compared results in two different class settings, one allowing free access to personal computers and the other one in which laptops and tablets were forbidden. Findings were unambiguous, suggesting that laptops don’t enhance classroom learning at all:

  • Computer use during class negatively impacts learning experience, showing 18% lower exam scores than the exam scores of students in classrooms that prohibit computers.
  • On average, students spend almost 40 minutes out of 100 minutes in a class period for nonacademic purposes (such as social networking, checking emails, reading news, playing online games, etc.).
  • Students only spend an average of 5 minutes using the Internet for class-related purposes. Therefore, using a laptop in class to enhance learning experience has exactly the opposite effect.
  • Moreover, findings show that in addition to the 40 minutes spent surfing the Web, students use their phones to text for an additional 27 minutes. Only 33 minutes per 100 are devoted to learning! It’s a wonder students learn anything at all.

Educators, faculty, and educational developers won’t be surprised by the results of these studies, because they know intuitively that students with laptops in class are easily inaccessible.
There is a strong correlation between using laptops or tablets in class and exams results; the more students surf the Web during class, the more they fail at exams. I think it is our duty as educators to show these findings to our students and let them know about the risk they take by bringing personal computers into class.

It is wise to consider going old school and bring a good old-fashioned notebook to next class!

Carter, S.P., Greenberg, K., walker, S., (2017), the impact of computer usage on academic performance. Evidence from a randomized trial at the United States Military Academy Economics of Education Review. Volume 56, February 2017, Pages 118-132