College students are often bored by lectures. With their laptops open in front of them, and WiFi, they can express this boredom in a new way. Professors are unhappy. I got an email about this problem from someone who tries to improve teaching at UC Berkeley. It included what he called “excellent suggestions”:
“Will not be able to agree on a renegade web site” — from an ancient Chinese book of maxims, I suppose. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education shows that the problem is widespread.
Addendum: In response to this email, a professor replied:
Today one of my GSIs informed me that several students were looking at internet porn during lecture. This not only proved a distraction but made several people uncomfortable. The GSI warned the student to close the site immediately and tried to get the names of the students. Of course, the students declined to give their names and one even just simply left class rather than be reprimanded further. Now I am left with the unpleasant, but necessary, task of trying to track down these students.