Scene 2: Students sit propped up on a hard wooden chair with a notebook computer (a.k.a. "laptop") on their desks, typing away during lectures.
The second scene is not a scene out of a university class teaching the use of computers. Actually, laptops have long replaced paper and pens in prestigious universities in the U.S., Japan, and even universities in developing countries, such as the Peking University in China.
The first scene is the norm, unfortunately, for universities in Korea. While the country is chiefly known for advanced online networking, domestic laptop producing companies, nonetheless, aim their marketing efforts mainly at the foreign markets. Personal computers fail to attract as many consumers in Korea as they do abroad.
On the downside, however, professors abroad are lamenting the fact that some students misuse their laptops in class and fail to participate in the day"s lecture. Thus, some professors restrict the use of laptops in their classerooms due to such distractions caused during lectures.
"Students need to pay attention to the flow of ideas and exchange their thoughts during class. Also, faltering attention has an ill effect on the students" logical reasoning ability in solving cases," says Professor Ian Ayres at Yale Law School.
While the controversy over the use of laptops in the classrooms may not affect the situation in Korea as of now, it shows the subtle negative effects that come with of the advancement of technology in university education.
"It"s a burden to print out the lecture syllabus after downloading them, especially since I don"t have my own printer. I go running up to the computer labs only to find a long line of people waiting to print theirs out," says Moon Hyun-oh (Hanyang Univ., 3).
Students may complain of the inconvenience of not being able to use their laptops, but for now professors in Korea do not have to worry about students checking their emails, sending messages, and even watching the replay of the previous night"s soccer match on their personal computers during class.