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SPOTLIGHT: Back to school...with WiFi?

The school year is about to begin and more and more schools--from junior high classrooms to university lecture halls--are offering an in-class WiFi connection, allowing students to use laptops in class (more than 40 percent of classrooms at colleges and universities had wireless access in fall 2005, up from 35.5 percent in 2004). Is this always-on connection a good thing or a bad thing? On the one hand, students may use the access to finish homework and write term papers. On the other hand, students can be easily distracted by having an always-on connection. Concerns and questions about how wireless Internet is used in the classroom will increase as the use of the technology expands. These concerns and questions will only intensify due to this simple fact: Research suggests that the more time students spend on-line in class, the worse their grades are. "If you just stick these things in lectures, it obviously isn't going to work," said Geri Gay, a professor of communication and information science at Cornell University. Instead of fighting WiFi, professors should think of ways to take advantage of the technology, she says. Report

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