No Wi-Fi in Yale’s ‘hottest class’

Prof. Alexander Nemerov

The Yale Daily News reports hundreds of students weren’t able to get into this semester’s most popular course — “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present” — because the professor requested a smaller classroom that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Prof. Alexander Nemerov told the newspaper:

In the past many students in the lecture were doing Facebook or email or all kinds of things on their computers. So for me it’s better if there’s a room where that is not possible, and one of the unfortunate effects of that is that I have to limit the enrollment of the class.

* Prof. Nemerov caps hottest class on campus

Your thoughts on Wi-Fi in classrooms? Share them in comments, please.


Jen Lee Reeves
I encourage my students to live tweet during my class (we use the #jenclass hashtag)- it’s like a crowd sourced note taking experience. Most of the time it keeps my students from getting distracted from other conversations online that don’t have a thing to do with our class discussion. It also encourages alumni to participate in the class discussion – and that’s really fun.

Dan Kennedy
I won’t ban laptops and WiFi because some students actually do fact-checking and add to discussion in real time. But man, when a couple of them start giggling over Facebook, I get completely distracted. Like everything else — good and bad.

Scott Martelle
I’ve allowed them, but am about to ban them for this coming semester. FB updates etc. are annoying enough, as is seeing two students huddled over the same screen and giggling, but we start each class talking about stories they’ve read over the previous couple of days in the NYT. The students just call up headlines in class and pretend they’ve been reading the paper all along. Busted …

Michael Triplett
I’ve taught law school and I want students to be able to access the web, send me an email (especially in a writing class), look at online examples. If you want to discourage students from surfing Facbook, then leave the front of the room and teach from different parts of the classroom where you can see what’s on their computer.

Dawn Fallik
There are no laptops allowed in my beginning journalism classes because they’re all on FB. I was all snotty about it until I got called out for being on FB during a faculty meeting. la la.

Howard Wolinsky
I have students at DePaul live tweet the speakers I bring in. I encourage web use and review results.



  1. Had the same problem when I taught at the terrific Tsinghua U. J-school in Beijing. Every desk had a computer. So I made the students turn their screens perpendicular to the desk, so they wouldn’t be distracted. Worked fine.

  2. Bill Reader said:

    I view the situation as a high-tech version of doodling in the notebook. If a student is not paying attention, but is doing so without disrupting others, so be it.

    If the student performs poorly on a test or assignment, then I certainly will make a note suggesting that the student might want to choose to pay attention in class.

  3. tobe berkovitz said:

    I let my students bring their laptops to class telling them I’ve been teaching for 30+ years and have “professor radar”. This is the knack for calling on them and asking a question when I know they’re not paying attention. I do not permit students to use their mobile hand helds in class. I also call on them when they are paying more attention looking down at the mobile under the desk than class discussion. I agree with the previous comment that students have lots of ways to not pay attention in class and I don’t see much difference between shopping for shoes or doodling in a notebook.