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Faculty members at many campuses have been debating whether they should ban laptops in class. At Cornell University, students are trying to change the discussion. The Student Assembly there adopted a resolution last month pushing for “greater freedom of student laptop usage” in certain classes.
But realistically, he said, faculty members can't develop a single, catch-all policy for laptop usage -- there is simply too much variation in class sizes, teaching styles, course levels and subject matter to expect the same policy to apply to every instructor.
Katherine Fahey, director of Student Disability Services, supports technology use in the classroom -- if not as a full-on policy, then at least in the sense that all students feel comfortable asking for an exception.
“In courses in which the instructor believes that learning is enhanced by students not using laptops, there should be an opportunity for any student to request an exception based on individual learning style, the impact of one’s disability or other factors,” Fahey said in an email.
But even asking to overrule a professor’s classroom technology policy can be uncomfortable for many students, especially at the beginning of the semester when there is no established relationship.