When Don Herzog, a law professor at the University of Michigan, asked his students questions last year, he was greeted with five seconds of silence and blank stares.
He knew something was wrong and suspected he knew why. So he went to observe his colleagues' classes - and was shocked at what he found.
"At any given moment in a law school class, literally 85 to 90 percent of the students were online," Professor Herzog says. "And what were they doing online? They were reading The New York Times; they were shopping for clothes at Eddie Bauer; they were looking for an apartment to rent in San Francisco when their new job started.... And I was just stunned."
This seems obvious - computers, especially well wired machines, can be an incredible distraction; on occasion I will work from a cafe, or somewhere I am not wired, just so I can focus - I often go out of my way to unplug from IM apps, shut off my email notification, etc.
I held a meeting the other day, and a few folks hauled their laptops in. My team is extremely busy these days, and I strive to keep meetings very short so team members can get on with their work. The mere presense of these machines, while well meaning - to look up relevant information here and there, ended up distracting the two team members, and dragging the team meeting out.
Here's another entertaining quote from a student in Ridberg's article:
"Every single person I have ever seen bring a computer to class has also surfed the Web or been on IM," says Amy Kornell, an undergraduate at the University of California at Davis. "I saw one girl watch a whole episode of 'Gray's Anatomy.' But I would guess that solitaire is the most popular game."