Paper vs. laptop – FSU’s technology dilemma

Wasn’t technology supposed to make our backpacks lighter?

As the world becomes “paperless,” it seems some professors didn’t get the memo.

In my first semester at FSU, two of my four professors required the class to scribe their notes on paper instead of typing.

This infuriated me.

Because the school required me to purchase a laptop, I should be able to take notes with it. Is that ridiculous?

My family and I pay an exorbitant amount of money for me to attend college, not to mention purchasing a laptop that cost hundreds of dollars. If I invest in a laptop, then I should have a right to use it when I want.

My high school started a 1-to-1 technology initiative using iPads with my class. If K-12 education is diving into the waters of digital learning, why have colleges drudged their boats so slowly?

Laptops have been a part of secondary education for years.

There’s this amazing scene from NBC’s “The Office” in which Michael Scott is speaking to a class in a lecture hall. He tells the students to write something down: a symphony of keyboard clicks is then heard.

Contemporary college is synonymous with technology. Who gave professors the right to prevent students from taking notes using the method of their choice?

Offending syllabi claim cell phones, laptops, and tablets are distractions because students will use social media, play games, or complete other assignments.

One syllabus states, “You are expected to pay attention and participate during class. … Anyone using electronic devices during class when not directed to do so by the instructor will be considered to be absent from class.”

Fair enough, I understand this perspective. I remember seeing my high school valedictorian on her phone during class.

However, I am a big fan of Microsoft OneNote. It syncs among devices and allows for colorful drawings.

The syllabus in question is for a math class. You would think math is easier to write on paper, but students could also draw colorful notes on their two-in-one laptop/tablets with touch screens.

I could use OneNote with my laptop flat on the desk, drawing vibrant notes – the professor can see exactly what I’m doing, and my notes are stored and synced automatically to all my devices.

Instead, I’m carrying pounds of paper notebooks in my bag.

A science professor’s syllabus said of digital notes, “You can study during the process of rewriting your classroom notes.”

I adopted this practice, and quite enjoyed it. However, I’m no longer a freshman – I don’t have time to redundantly copy my notes!

One professor cited the “FSU Notice of Non-Discrimination and Diversity” in their syllabus.

I feel discriminated against because I can’t take notes how I choose!

Professors shouldn’t stop students from using their technology in class. It’s not the professor’s responsibility to learn – it’s the student.

Students learn their lesson when they fail a class because they were distracted. Those who took notes responsibly move more quickly through their education.

It’s not just notes either – as an English major, I read a lot of books.

I wish I had a second backpack to carry my novels.

It’s nearly 2020, and although I love reading physical novels and writing notes in the margins, I can do the same on my touch-screen computer.

My backpack is full of paper – it weighs at least 30 pounds. I’m not sure how much longer I can slog my way up the hills of FSU like a pack animal.

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