As technology grows to seemingly limitless possibilities, new problems constantly arise that question the value of its creation. The newest innovation to spark a surprising amount of controversy is wireless internet. Ostensibly, a wireless internet connection looks flawless, useful, convenient, and naturally progressive.
The problem concerns not the technology itself, but its application. Recently schools like American University, Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon University, to name a few, have begun to place wireless Internet connections in the classroom. Educators complain that they are losing their students to distractions like AOL Instant Messenger and online gaming.
Yet, the extent to which the Internet has changed classroom attentiveness is questionable. Those students checking email, instant messaging and browsing the online Wall Street Journal are the ones who would normally chat, pass notes or read the actual Wall Street Journal. Even if wireless access woos a few more converts to the cult of the inattentive, it is inevitably the responsibility of the student to pay attention; otherwise, they will pay for it, literally and figuratively.
Moreover, this technology has endless benefits. It links the isolated classroom to the outside world. It has the potential to cultivate class discussion and give timeless material timely relevance. Of course, professors have a right to control their classrooms and they will always have the right to ban laptops or limit Internet use to the back seats of the classroom.
The University’s Business and Law schools, recognizing the necessity of up-to-date information, already have this technology and it is time for the rest of the University, after much hype and lip service, to follow suit.