Laptop computers are becoming increasingly prevalent in higher education and are even being used in some K-12 classrooms. Some schools have laptop programs where students are given laptops and may be required to use them. While laptops may present opportunities for distraction, utilizing portable computers in classrooms can yield several significant benefits.
Computer skills are becoming a fundamental part of education. Students that learn to type efficiently and use basic computer functions such as word processing, email and web browsing have a significant advantage over students that have no knowledge of computers. Allowing laptops in the classroom reinforces computer skills and can allow students to have contact with computers without having them take a class geared specifically toward learning computer skills. Using laptops for the purpose of note taking can be very beneficial, since a strong typist can record notes much faster than writing by hand, which can force students to learn to type quickly and accurately.
Another potential benefit of using laptops in classrooms is that using computers is more fun for students than simply sitting at a desk and listening to a lecture with a pad of paper and a pen. Students that have fun in the classroom are more likely to come to school. Laptops can provide a high level of interactivity between students, teachers and subject matter. For instance, a teacher could challenge students to find the answer to a question about history or some other subject using their laptops online. This would force students to conduct quick research and use creativity to find the answer, rather than paging through a dense textbook.
A third benefit of using laptops in the classroom is that they can help students stay organized and remember school work. When you have six or more classes, it is easy to misplace a worksheet or forget about an assignment. If teachers distribute assignments digitally, students can easily review their work all in one place. Digital copies of work also help students by making it easy to edit or change work. This can be a benefit for teachers as well: having students turn work in via email or another digital system is easier than collecting and sorting through stacks of physical paper. What's more, digital assignments allow students that have to miss school to turn in work remotely, reducing the inequity of allowing students extensions on assignments for missing class. Additionally, typewritten assignments are much easier to read than those written by hand.