Why a leading professor of new media just banned technology use in class. Clay Shirky says that multi-tasking is bad for the quality of cognitive work:
This effect takes place over more than one time frame — even when multi-tasking doesn’t significantly degrade immediate performance, it can have negative long-term effects on “declarative memory”, the kind of focused recall that lets people characterize and use what they learned from earlier studying. (Multi-tasking thus makes the famous “learned it the day before the test, forgot it the day after” effect even more pernicious.)
Shirky concludes, “The final realization — the one that firmly tipped me over into the “No devices in class” camp — was this: screens generate distraction in a manner akin to second-hand smoke.”
He says, “Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class–it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them.”
Shirky is discussing college classes in this interesting article cited by the Washington Post.