Eoin O’Dell writes about laptop usage in lectures and how usage in his classes isn’t quite as high the US yet, but it’s growing every year. The screens that I’ve seen sitting behind people using laptops in DCU would confirm the that usage often isn’t for taking notes. However, I’ve read the Irish Times in a few lectures before.
It’s only when I know the topic but need to be around for that small percentage of the lecture that’s new etc. The only thing I’d be worried about is distracting others. Any time I have read the paper in class I have, however, still paid attention. Most can’t, many don’t think it is possible, but I’ve been told it’s maybe the way my brain is hard-wired. Multitasking is possible, no matter what the cynics say.
There are down sides. While reading and listening once I blurted out a correction of what the lecture had said. I was correct, but it wasn’t really central to his point, and I paid by having the lecturer make a bit of a joke about it.
Further in my defence, I’m not the worst offender of Irish Times reading. Once I seen a lawyer reading the same in a district court… the judge hardly looked up the whole time, but an older and wiser lawyer had to intervene with a stare when the page turning nose level disrupted him addressing the judge.
Talking about distracting noise, why do people have full conversations in lectures? It’s amazing how often it happens in non-mandatory lectures. As one lecturer had to say recently: ‘You don’t have to be here, and you can leave if you want’.