I teach computer science, so the notion of banning computers from my classes seems absurd. My approach has been to treat college students as adults; if they want to squander their time playing games and reading Facebook during class, it is their responsibility. However, as a teacher, I am also responsible to ensure that the activity of some students does not affect the learning environment for others. Furthermore, the culture of the classroom, including class discussions, can be impaired when students are distracted. For this reason, I have recently insisted on a “laptop contract” with my students. In this contract, students are encouraged to use longhand, but may use laptops on the condition that they disable their wi-fi connection (except when necessary to minimize distractions) and commit to using the laptop for class-related work only.
A colleague at Redeemer University College recently shared the following parable: There once was an architect who designed a beautiful building. The construction crew came in, dug a big hole and laid a perfect foundation. Then the crew left. A crowd gathered to admire the beautiful foundation.
End of story.
He shared this proverb as a means to ask a provocative question: Is Christian scholarship and teaching like this?
I have always appreciated a Redeemer education – how it can bring computers and the arts together in a liberal arts education. But I am also grateful for how it brought technology and the arts together in another way – in the life of a particular engineer and a fine arts major 25 years ago.
While computers have triumphed against human opponents in several different areas, the year 2000 came and went without any passing the Turing Test. However, last month, precisely 60 years after the death of Alan Turing, a supercomputer officially passed the Turing Test at an event held by the University of Reading.
Although I now teach computer science, my first fascination with technology was not with personal computers, but radio.