While I see the logic, I also worry that if I banned laptop use in my classes I’d be deprived of the privilege of demanding that people look things up on Wikipedia during my lectures. And for some reason, I find making such demands to be endlessly entertaining. I’ve also never been particularly bothered by the notion that someone might be instant messaging during my lecture. That said, I can understand why instructors would worry that laptops detract from the lecture experience.
I’m teaching two courses this semester, and in spite of the fact that I have no policy on laptops, I find that people rarely use their laptops during History of Strategic Thought (which is conducted as a graduate seminar), yet regularly use their laptops during Defense Statecraft (which is a small lecture). This seems to work out pretty well for both courses.
Any laptop banning experiences, either positive or negative?