March 25, 2005

Banning internet access in class

There are rumors going around that some faculty members and administrators at my law school want to ban internet access in class. Again, at this point this is nothing more than a rumor, a whisper, a ghost of a shadow of a mist (or whatever that line was in that movie I can't remember).

I'm opposed to a rule banning internet access in class, for at least these three reasons:

  • It's overly paternalistic. (This is the weakest argument.) Bad enough that they insist on using EBB to prevent cheating on exams, instead of relying on an honor code.
  • How much money did they just spend to install all those wireless internet antennae in the classrooms last year? I know, sunk costs. But, sheesh.
  • A ban on classroom internet access won't change much of anything. (This is the strongest argument.) People still have their minesweeper; they still have their chess games.

I agree with Will Baude and find Raffi Melkonian's position unassailable:

Just because I have pitiful self control doesn't mean others should suffer, and I don't think it's part of a law school's pedagogical mission to cater to my weaknesses.

Hopefully, this ban-the-internet silliness will remain just a rumor, or I might be forced to write more about it.

(That oughta set those administrators straight...)

Posted by Carey at March 25, 2005 10:21 PM

I can just see those administrators getting nervous already ;)

Posted by: Grotius at March 26, 2005 07:13 PM

It does seem sort of weird to wire the whole place to hell and then say, "Well, we're not going to allow you to use the network."

And, I agree that your last argument is the strongest. If it's not the internet, then it's Minesweeper, Hearts, FreeCell, Spider Solitaire, Regular Solitaire, Spades, Reversi, or (as I've seen one guy in front of me play) Civilization III. (That last one was damn distracting. I kept wanting to say, "No, don't attack the Aztecs! They're too strong right now!" But the idiot did anyway and he lost all of his Wonders.)

Posted by: Adam at March 27, 2005 02:24 PM

Another good
reason is that sometimes we need internet in class. Example: In one of my classes,
my prof told us internet usage is prohibited. Yet he sends out problems over
email either late the night before or that morning. If I didn't check my email
in class, I wouldn't get them in time (I start class at 8:30 and this class is
at 11:15). And then he calls on people to discuss the emails who frequently
haven't cut-and-pasted the problems out of their email program and into their
notes. If we could check our email in class, discussion on these problems
might be a bit livelier.

Posted by: J Krasch at March 28, 2005 09:02 AM

Not only has the law school spent a lot of money faciliting wireless access, they out-an-out praise the wonders of wireless on the law school website:
"The law school wireless network allows students internet connections within the classroom, library, Law Quadrangle and beyond."

I also recall a statement praising the high-percentage (I cannot recall the percentage, but I think it was substantially more than 50%) of wirelessness available at the law school.

Moreover, the law school encourages students to purchase wireless-equipped laptops. See

The law school administration needs to make up its mind, one way or the other, about wireless access.

Posted by: Samples at March 28, 2005 03:07 PM

More info. about law school wireless is available at:

The percentage referred to in my prior comment was posted on the web both last year and the year prior; the law school has since become 100% wireless (see the aforementioned website).

Posted by: Samples at March 28, 2005 03:13 PM