Computer Scientist Won’t Allow Computers in Classroom

Computer scientist Dan Rockmore makes a case against allowing computers in his classroom:

When I created my “electronic etiquette policy” (as I call it in my syllabus), I was acting on a gut feeling based on personal experience. … Over time, a wealth of studies on students’ use of computers in the classroom has accumulated to support this intuition. Among the most famous is a landmark Cornell University study from 2003 called “The Laptop and the Lecture,” wherein half of a class was allowed unfettered access to their computers during a lecture while the other half was asked to keep their laptops closed. The experiment showed that, regardless of the kind or duration of the computer use, the disconnected students performed better on a post-lecture quiz. The message of the study aligns pretty well with the evidence that multitasking degrades task performance across the board.

Another study suggests that disconnecting from the Internet isn’t enough:

According to this study, it’s precisely when laptops are used as one might hope – for note-taking – that they are a problem. Most people can type significantly faster than they can take notes by hand, and the natural tendency of most computer users is to take more notes – perhaps even to transcribe – at the expense of memory and comprehension. If you don’t have to think about what you are hearing and what is or is not worth writing down, you are not likely to listen as intently and actively.

Hat tip,


Do Parental Distractions from Smart Phones Result in More Child Injuries?

Researcher Craig Palsson from the Department of Economics at Yale University has found that “from 2005 to 2012, injuries to children under five increased by 10%. Using the
expansion of ATT’s 3G network, I find that smartphone adoption has a causal impact
on child injuries. This effect is strongest amongst children ages 0-5, but not children
ages 6-10, and in activities where parental supervision matters. I put this forward as
indirect evidence that this increase is due to parents being distracted while supervising
children, and not due to increased participation in accident-prone activities.” Read the research.

Palsson assembled data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, run by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The government does not collect any information from the phone, but instead relies on a sample of hospital emergency room visits involving consumer products. (Hat tip,

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