Posted by: Steph | March 31, 2006

Laptops in Class

Hey, Section F – Did you see Kevin Markle’s post on the CMD? Please go and read it.

Here is the story for you outsiders: We had a special guest speaker in our accounting class. Our accounting teacher brought him in to talk to us about life in the “outside world” as it relates to financial accounting type stuff… you get the drill. The speaker was good and the format was engaging (instead the overdone “speech and Q&A” Professor Markle interviewed him and we asked questions). About 10 minutes into the lecture Professor Markle asked those who had their laptops open (about 10 people out of 45 I think, I could not see behind me) to shut them. About 2 people did. The rest continued to stare at their screens and type.

Ouch. I cringed on the inside. And obviously my telepathic messages to shut them did not get through. And why would I care so much? Respect. Manners. Generosity.

Generosity may seem out of place there so I will begin by explaining that one. Every week we have the accounting lecture and I actually enjoy it. The material is actually presented in an engaging manner. I find myself trying to put together the pieces of the accounting puzzle. I never thought that I would be wondering if a pregnant cow has a higher value as an asset, or, if a cow is born, when does it become an asset? – For some reason the dairy case sent me into a philosophical accounting spin but that’s beside the point – We get chocolates. We play fun games like “2 truths and a lie”. And most importantly, we actually learn. Those of you who have taught will know how much energy it takes to teach like that – it’s generous of Kevin to give so much of himself every week just so we can understand the basics of accounting, and I think that generosity should never be taken for granted.

With regards to respect and manners, if you don’t see how that enters the equation it might be a little too late for you. Suffice it to say – when people are speaking to you it is polite to listen and give them your full attention. Usually I think only fools don’t see the thousand shades of grey, but in this case… no debate.

As MBA students we expect to be taught well, we expect the professors to treat us well, and to treat us as mature and intelligent students. Are the professors allowed to expect anything from us? I’m going to step away from my journalistic tendencies towards being a bit more impartial and go out on a limb and say that they have every right to expect something from us. It’s not only our right to be here, it’s a privilege. And if anyone starts arguing that we are paying to go here and so on… well get over yourself. We complain about the professors who don’t engage us and who aren’t involved. We want the professors to invest their energy in us. Now I’m not science girl but energy, in my experience, is the strongest when it goes in both directions, from more than one source. So I think the professors, the lectures, and our entire education will be stronger if we all try to maximize this multi-direction energy flow (the maximax solution in operations…. because I’m an optimist). Be present in class, more than just physically, and treat the professors the way you would like them to treat you. You might get more out of it than you would expect.

That said, what about the bad professors? The ones who basically regurgitate the textbook year in, year out and obviously just teach because they have to? Obviously that’s not our fault, and unfortunately, other than the professor feedback we have very little input. But maybe we need to challenge them more. Is sitting in class messaging your friends or working on another assignment a solution? Now… in said class, I sometimes want to put up my hand and say “excuse me, I’m a little more artsy and the relationship between the GDP and the tax multiplier is in fact not obvious at all”. And I am the first to admit that I am getting close to nothing out of some classes, but again, if I look at my own behaviour, maybe I could take more responsibility to speak up when it starts becoming one huge irrelevant mess of businessy boring stuff. Actually, what would happen if the entire class paid attention 100% for one whole economics class and challenged Smithin to make sense on every single point? Something to think about.

Back to the point. Please be polite and show respect. And appreciate the generosity of the dedicated professors.



  1. Ah now this is where I sorta disagree.
    Yes, I was hugely embarassed in class (I was one of the two people that closed their lappies when Teh Kevin asked us to, ears burning and all) and there was little excuse for people to be chatting clickety-clack.
    However, I don’t agree with the idea that certain programs (MSN for one) should be banned in classes while powerpoint and note-taking programs are all right. If this school wants to jump on the ‘high-tech’ bandwagon and parade its investors/donators through classrooms with students gaping alternatively at laptops and tenured, brilliant profs, etc., and generally want to look cool, then go that way. If you want people paying undivided attention to the teacher, ban laptops altogether. (Of course, maybe in that case, you should ban any other distractions like doodling, drooling and/or napping)
    You can’t have it both ways. This is the 21st century and there are high-tech distractions. Live with it, and quit yer bitching.

  2. I didn’t mean Steph (in the quit yer bitching remark), I meant parties in general that don’t like the idea of mature students or whatever sitting on msn or surfing the net during lectures.
    No one’s asking you to look.

    I shall look what the hell I like during class, I probabloy still contribute more than you do. So, nyah.

  3. Roma, I never said to ban laptops, or even msn in class. I would hope that there is no need to treat us like children. What I’m asking is that people use their best judgement and be polite. Also, I don’t think the laptops / looking cool thing has any relevance at all.

    BTW – I wonder if we will agree on anything next week because this week week was one big (entirely enjoyable) disagreement.

  4. Check out the Actg CMD, someone posted a response to the Laptop issue and while I think they took certain liberties while adressing the prof, he/she made a lot of the same points.

    PS: Debate is fun, gives the brain a little playtime.

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