Guest Post: How To Deal with a No-Laptop Policy
Today’s guest post is from Nick Honegger, a fellow student at Trinity University. Like many of you, he can’t stand being told to keep his computer in his bag. He has a few tips if you find yourself with a technophobic professor.
The semester has started and you find yourself stuck in a class that has a no laptop policy, what do you do?
The most basic option you have is talking to your professor outside of class to discuss the possibility of you using your laptop. Most professors fear students who use laptops in classes are either playing games or surfing the web. In an attempt to distance yourself from this perception, try explaining why you find a computer is helpful to your note taking process. If you can convince him or her that the computer is more efficient for you they may change their mind. Offer to make some sacrifices to prove you are willing to be diligent. For example, I’ve had teachers be content with laptop users if they sit in the first three rows. The best way for this strategy to work is to be polite and explain why your laptop is so vital for your learning process. This works more than you would expect, and as long as you do not appear to be distracting your classmates, you will be in the clear.
If this fails, try using the next best (however expensive) gadget, a tablet. While typing lecture notes on your on-screen keyboard may not sound satisfying, it is better than nothing. Professors who reject computers generally do not like that the student’s face is covered, especially in discussion based classes. Tablets allow you to look more involved in class because you are not covered by a screen. The downside to this is that your notes may not be up to par with your laptop notes, however at least it will give you an option for eBooks and handouts.
So you tried everything… There is hope, thanks to Livescribe. Livescribe’s smartpens allow students to write their notes while recording the professor’s lecture. Aside from recording the lecture it records what you write so you can have electronic copies of your notes. The Livescribe desktop application allows you to export your notes to Everonte and even convert your handwritten notes into text. For a more in-depth review, see HC’s coverage of the new smartpen at CES here. The downside to the pen is that is it is expensive if you just want to use it for a few classes. The price is roughly $170 if you purchase the pen and paper from Amazon, but if you know your future classes will not be computer friendly, it may be worth your money.
If you do not feel like spending the money, here is a cheap way to get your notes onto your computer. If you don’t have a scanner, you can write your notes in class than type them later. I know this sounds obvious, and maybe like a waste of time, but it has benefits. While you take notes in class uses different colors to signify things for when you type your notes. For example in my notes I use green ink to signify when I need to get an article offline to add to the notes for that day. The process of typing your written notes that day helps you study the information and allows you to make a study guide as the semester goes as opposed to cramming. This is by no means the best case scenario, but at the end of the day at least your notes are digitized.