This article is seriously dated but it's making me worry that there's a strict no laptop in class policy. True, false, or depends on profs? Can any of you super help penn students estimate just how wide-spread this is?
ANd once again, thanks to all the students posting here. This thread is 56 pages of gold for any future penn student!
I was told at ASW that one of the 1L sections was not allowed to use laptops in any of their 1L classes. Not exactly sure how that grading worked but the idea I got was that it was some sort of an experiment to see if these students did better or worse than their peers who were allowed to have their computers.
For starters, the laptop ban was only first semester -- second semester that section (section 2 i think? the one with Gordon/Wolff/Wilkinson-Ryan/deLisle) got to use laptops in some of their classes.
Secondly, each section has its own curve, so I'm not exactly sure how banning laptops in one would lead to any usable statistics, unless you planned on analyzing the performance of students class-wide, which a) would require a massive amount of work I have a feeling no professor/administrator would want to take on, and b) would require controlling for extraneous variables like professor quality, exam difficulty, exam subject matter, (for example, my property class covered much less than the other two sections did) and exam format that frankly I don't think could be controlled.
If this is something someone at Penn told you, they're crazy; if this is something that you "figured out" for yourself, you're crazy. I had heard from someone that the professors in that section got together and just made the executive decision to ban laptops. No idea if it'll continue this year -- that probably depends on the professors in each section.
For the record, I had one no-laptop class each semester. It's really not that bad. There are some classes that it would be literally impossible to get anything from without a laptop, but in some ways hand writing is good because it forces you to actually analyze what's going on in class instead of just mindlessly typing, and as a corollary to that it makes you realize what the important things to get down on paper are and what is kind of extraneous. Also, it's very easy to get distracted in class by gchat/facebook/gawker/reddit/whatever your personal internet distraction is (and don't get on your OL high horse and say you wouldn't waste your time/money in school on that... you will).
1. I don't think this was part of some master social engineering plan.
2. Laptop bans are not that bad and can actually be useful in some ways.
Edit: 3. I hope I don't come off as too much of a douche.