Attention Deficit in the Classroom

What happens when university students have unfettered access to the Internet during classes? Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes in a wireless-enabled classroom knows the answer: of the students with laptops, many are online, and many of the online crowd are surfing far from the seas of academe. Such is the conclusion of an article in the Ann Arbor News today: "As U-M Goes Wireless, Results Are Not Always Academic."
The University is adapting, slowly. The law school, for example, “now blocks individual students’ access to its wireless network when they’re supposed to be in class.” And at least one professor, Ben van der Plujim, wrote software called “Lecture Tools” that enables a presenter to share slides directly with students, allowing them to follow along with the lecture, and take notes on their laptops — giving idling hands something to do during the lecture other than click around the web.
It will be interesting to observe the evolution of in-class technology use — particularly by students — as network access becomes better integrated into the classroom.