Category Archives: access

First thoughts on the latest “laptop ban” piece


~ image description (black and white): a vertical column of five marble discs on a marble surface.  The discs are barriers meant to preclude one from sitting on the marble surface. ~

Dear Class,

Please use your laptops, head pointers, phones, Livepens, tablets, hearing aids, paper, FM systems, pens, glasses, pencils, and all the tools that help you communicate.

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As a former senior learning skills counselor at UC Berkeley and someone with a continued investment in how students learn, I’d like to invite people citing “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking” to critically read (or reread) the entire article. The article is problematic on many levels. The article has been part of my curriculum for several years. I love reading the piece with a freshman composition class; they discover many of the problematic assumptions made in the piece. Susan Dynarski’s argument in “Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting” relies heavily on this problematic article. Susan Dynarski’s “best evidence” is poor evidence at best. I’m not staking my pedagogy on five TED talks (“The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking”).

I invite you, my friends who teach college comp/rhet and literature, to consider holding one of your classes in a computer lab–if that is an available option. I also encourage such friends to invite your students to use their phones/tablets/and laptops in the computer lab.

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How can we help our students discover how these tools enhance their learning and contribute to the knowledge making in our classes?

How can we show our students how technology creates access?

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I invite you, my college teaching friends, to schedule a class to visit your Accessibility and Technology Center, or its equivalent. Your students will even better learn how we (disabled people) use technology to learn (and teach). Your students will expand their understanding of how people will access their work in college and beyond.

And to anyone considering a laptop ban, do you really expect to out your disabled students by making an exception to your laptop ban for disabled students? Really?!

Katie Rose Guest Pryal and Jordynn Jack (the following link) wrote a response to Dynarski’s piece; their piece is well worth your time: