It may be hard for current college and law students to imagine, but back when I started law school 10 years ago, whether or not to use laptops in the law school classroom wasn't much of an issue. We also walked five miles to school in the snow--each way--but that's a story for different time.
Now, of course, the issue of whether professors should allow or even encourage laptops in the classroom comes up often, most recently in an article by Florida Coastal School of Law Professor Jana R. McCreary in the Valparaiso University Law Review entitled "The Laptop-Free Zone". Based on information gathered in a survey of 450 law students at three different law schools, Professor McCreary argues that "professors must do their best to teach to all students - to those who feel they learn best by using a laptop as an aid and to those who complain of the distractions caused."
To accomplish this, Professor McCreary suggests a laptop-free zone in the front of the classroom, similar to non-smoking sections in restaurants, so that students who are distracted by others' screens won't see them but students who learn best with laptops are also accommodated.
I suppose I'm old-fashioned, but I think I learn best by writing things down by hand--although I have to admit I've never tried the other way. I'd definitely be willing to experiment with it now that my laptop has become such an important feature in my life.
So what do you think? To laptop or not to laptop in the law school classroom?