How to Ditch Your Laptop

By Melissa

Are you in class right now? Yes? So, you’ve fallen into the trap of articles with catchy titles, memes, or maybe you’ve even got Netflix open in one of your tabs. We all do it. The professor walks in and begins a lecture, our laptop is in front of us, and suddenly we descend into the black hole of the internet. Once you’ve disengaged, the mindless notes you take on the side while you tag your friends in memes become useless.

You might think you’re the greatest multi-tasker on the face of the earth. But trust me, you aren’t. In fact, there is probably no point in going to class if you’re going to sit on your laptop the entire time — and there are many reasons why.

Now, it’s not all bad. As millennials, this is our reality. We are part of the technology age and we often find it easier to type notes and use our devices to keep track of assignments and lectures. However, there are many benefits to ditching your laptop and taking notes the old fashioned way (yes… with paper…and pencils or pens). That’s why I’ve committed to attempting to complete a full semester using my laptop in class as little as possible. It seems like a hefty task, but I know that it’s going to help me actively engage in my learning experience.

With midterms and reading week rapidly approaching, it’s important to be on your A-game, and ditching your laptop may be the way to keep you on track. Here are five reasons why you should try going laptop-less.

1. The vacuum effect

One of my professors constantly says that when you’re on your laptop, the entire group of people around you get sucked into the vacuum. She swears she knows the minute someone opens Facebook on their device, because it shows through the actions and body language of other students. I call this the vacuum effect; your disengagement automatically impacts the people around you, which then makes it more obvious to the professor that you aren’t paying attention.

2. Your professor will like you more

Your professor will notice when you are actually paying attention and they will appreciate it.

As much as we want to believe that our professors don’t notice us using Facebook during class — they are all-seeing (even when you think you’re being sneaky). Ditching your laptop is also a way to get to know your professor better (see my other article on how to become friends with your prof).

3. You’ll learn more

Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University and UCLA recently published a study about how the “pen is mightier than the keyboard” — it discusses how handwritten notes actually enhance academic performance. They say that handwritten notes will more closely capture the key elements of course content whereas typed notes often only capture verbatim concepts. Students in this study who wrote their notes were shown to have stronger conceptual understanding and were more likely to retain information and apply it successfully.

But why? Mueller and Oppenheimer say that it’s because handwritten notes require a different type of cognitive processing that allows the student to listen, digest, and summarize information, thus, they learn more.

4. You won’t derail

Mueller and Oppenheimer also found that in a typical university setting, students that use laptops spend 40% of class time using applications or programs that are unrelated to coursework — they lose focus and are overall less satisfied with their education.

When you ditch your laptop, the calls of memes and Facebook are automatically silenced, and you can focus on the task at hand. By not using a laptop, you will avoid getting distracted and you will engage with your course material in a more meaningful way.

5. You’ll save time

If you spend 40% of class time or more on your laptop doing things unrelated to coursework, then you’re wasting time. After class or later in the week, you will have to catch up with the content that you didn’t write notes on while you were focusing on something unrelated. Ultimately, isn’t it more efficient to take excellent notes during class so that you can tag your friends in memes later?

Actively participating in class is an important part of university (and you pay for it) so it’s important to take advantage of the opportunity to truly learn.

I realize how hard it is — and I’m not perfect. A lot of the time I start doing homework or research for a project from another course while I’m sitting in a different class. However, I think it’s important to try and be present in the class I’m in, instead of wasting my time. Otherwise, why am I even there?

So that’s why I’m ditching my laptop this term — how about you?