U of T Professors Enact Laptop Ban
Restrictions on electronics raise mixed opinions among student body
Amaial Mullick ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
Recently, many University of Toronto (U of T) professors have begun to enact electronics bans in their classes. Such bans are mostly targeted toward, but not limited to, laptops and placed at the discretion of the professor. Many students and organizations have actively expressed dissatisfaction with this new policy, on the grounds of how it affects their learning experience and that of others within the school. A number of questions raised regarding the no-electronics approach include how it may impede learning, the ramifications for accessibility, and if in truth it will facilitate a superior environment for learning.
The University of Toronto Students’ Union has even gone so far as to collect virtual feedback from students, encouraging them to join the pushback against these electronics bans. If you are an active participant of the U of T community on social media, you may even see the occasional #SayNotoLaptopBan. Now that it is becoming a campus-wide debate, let us delve into the issues.
It is no surprise that there is a reliance on electronics within our generation, prevalent amongst all ages of students. The norm in any given classroom has become students fiddling to place their laptops, rather than turning pages of a notebook. While some do remain fans of the orthodox note-taking method, most students have superseded this structure. They find that the use of electronics is an aid, especially when dealing with a number of various professors who have their own styles of teaching and pace.
Those who are for the ban have stated that many times, students will use their laptops for entertainment while sitting in a lecture, therefore becoming a distraction for those around them. While this may be a reality, every student is entitled to choose what works for them, and those abusing this privilege should not be the reason for revocation. A student in a fourth-year economics course, Faizan Anjum, recounted the difficulties students who are not used to writing notes are facing due to the professor’s electronics ban, where he publicly calls out students due to the small class size.
Another worry is that of accessibilities, as there are many students who require electronics and the features they provide to not only take notes efficiently but to keep up with the class. While there are provisions made for students who have accessibilities, there are those who have not been able to get these resources due to the university’s lag within Accessibility Services.
Additionally, there are other methods that professors can monitor student activity within class without denying students a resource which many rely upon. One instance is a lecture where TAs were placed around the hall to observe if students were paying attention. While this may not be feasible for many professors, there are many options to be explored beyond taking laptops away from students, which may be seen as jeopardizing the acquisition of knowledge that the professors are aiming to promote in the first place.