Wireless Internet in Class: Bad for your Reputation?

I didn’t realize the error of my ways until my professor blogged about it.

Technology makes education work in ways we have to appreciate.  I have on occasion tried to imagine what law school was like when all exams were hand-written, all legal research was literally by the book, diseases were intended to be cured by bleeding the patient dry and dinosaurs roamed the Earth.  Needless to say I haven’t got enough of an imagination to envision the terror of a legal education without modern technology.

The pros of technology are many, including ease of access to necessary information, fast communication and transfer of said information, and Facebook.  The cons don’t easily come to mind.  One possible con, however, came to light in last year’s property law class.

Wireless internet is available in most Canadian law school classrooms, and it has proven itself invaluable for the law student looking to take a break on his or her own time.

In classes last year, I neglected to consider that there was someone on the other side of my laptop (which would have been my tragic undoing in a game of Battleship), and didn’t realize where I may have been going wrong until that individual–my professor–posted on his blog about it.  Trying to communicate complex legal theories and concepts to students is probably quite difficult when you’re good at reading body language.

A weak attempt at concealing a smirk?  An MSN conversation with the class clown.  A suppressed expression of excitement?  Good news about the local sporting franchise.  A subtle gleam of hope in one’s eye?  A new Facebook friend request.  “OMG she poked me back!”

It is now understandable how this could be distracting to a law professor.  Further, it’s not just the professors who might have complaints, but students too.  He mentioned in his blog entry a student making a complaint to him about being distracted by someone’s online wedding dress shopping.

Now I don’t give much heed to students complaining because they can’t avoid screen-dropping in the middle of class.  But the professor’s complaints warrant some consideration.  What makes me ashamed of my bad in-class habits isn’t so much the potential for distracting other students.  It’s the disrespect.

The reason I’ve behaved myself this year isn’t because I haven’t got seemingly better things to do online from time to time, or because I care about distracting others who can’t mind their own business and are captivated by shiny objects.  It’s because it’s just plain disrespectful to the professor who likely himself has something better to do than instruct inconsiderate students.

Some words of advice to everyone still guilty of this bad habit:  Your professor is watching.  And she is the person you probably don’t want to dislike you.

But most importantly:  Who’s the brown-nosing rat bastard that told on me for my wedding dress shopping?

About the Author

Thomas Wisdom
Second-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (Toronto, Canada).

1 Comment on "Wireless Internet in Class: Bad for your Reputation?"

  1. Wi-Fi is a technology which is used daily in a number of environments. Schools, colleges and universities, offices and public places such as libraries all contain Wi-Fi connections. There is no denying that Wi-Fi connection makes communication a lot simpler but it could also pose security risks.

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