Imagine walking into class on the first day of school, excited to start a new semester of courses and with an online note taking system that works for you as a student and is resilient to changes that were required by Covid-19.
Now imagine your professor telling you that they will only allow students to have notebooks and a writing utensil out during class. They do not want to see any phones, laptops, or tablets throughout that class – no question. But what does this mean for those students who rely on technology as part of their online education?
In 2019, the educational technology industry – comprising tools such as Blackboard, Canvas, Interactive Whiteboards (Such as Smartboards), and much more, was valued at $18.66 billion dollars according to the World Economic Forum. As of 2025 that valuation is expected to increase to $350 billion dollars.
It is not surprising that WSU students rely on technology as heavily as they do – it is part of the rigor of getting a degree or certification from the university. This is why when a professor decides that they don’t want to see technology in their class it can be frustrating to students.
Laptops and tablets not only put university programs, including Blackboard and Outlook, at a student’s fingertips, but with the rise of digital textbooks through Access Now and RedShelf, technology makes backpacks lighter and more easily carried through a long day on campus.
For me, these technology bans seem unusual. Even in middle school, when we did not have a laptop to carry from class to class, we used technology frequently enough that teachers and students were accustomed to utilizing it.
In high school, I did have a few teachers who didn’t embrace it fully, but those teachers often had good reasons for not embracing it. For example: my Social Studies Teacher preferred more simulations and having us “meet” historical figures, and music courses or gym don’t necessarily require technology, but they do require specialized physical materials.
I can see how having a laptop or tablet in a lab type setting could be dangerous, whether that is because of the chemicals being used, or the nature of the lab the students are in.
I suppose this is my question to professors who are considering a rule such as this would be: What is your motive? Are you doing this because it better fits the nature of the class, or are you doing this because you are concerned that students are not getting as much out of class as they should?