I guess it dates me to say that when I was in high school nobody brought laptops to school. When I got a very old Powerbook to take with me to France, and would use take it in class on my return to Canada, it was a novelty. Even when I hit university the only other students using laptops tended to be the special needs students who the school supplied with computers to aid in their studies. There certainly was not wi-fi available anywhere around campus, and if I wanted to get my laptop online I needed to unplug one of the computers in the Phoenix's office and stick the stolen ethernet cable into my computer.
By the time I left it was more common to see laptops, but university wide wi-fi was still in the future. In the newspaper office we'd finally set up our own private wireless network, simply because we were always short on ethernet ports, and that seemed cutting edge.
These days though wireless internet is the norm in post-secondary schools across Canada. Karen Pinchin wrote an article for The Georgia Straight about how that's taxing student's attention spans in class [tgs], and I guess the fact that I'm blogging as the teacher is trying to get his laptop to display the correct slide, is proof that it does divide attention. Myself though I'm of the opinion that students basically find ways to let their minds go on mini holidays with or without technological advances.
I was generally attentive in high school but when the teacher was having to go over a concept for a third or fourth time for someone my mind would wander. Back then I'd write short stories, work on terrible lyrics to terrible songs that I intended to write one day when I finally learned to play guitar (I never did and likely never will), or came up with names for the terrible band that would never perform my terrible songs.
On notable class was grade eight English. I was an avid reader and would generally finish a novel within a week, which since we studied a novel over a month or two, meant that I had a great deal of time during the class' reading time. Seeing this, and seeing that Curtis Seaman was also reading ahead, Mr. Brooks would send the pair of us out to wander the school and write short stories and plays for extra credit. This never resulted in any great pieces of literature, since they were generally very silly parodies that only really made us laugh.
Still it was the type of thing that made us really enjoy the class, and I think that year was probably the best mark I ever got in English.
So here I am blogging. The projector is almost fixed, and the class is ready to continue so I guess I'd better go. I probably won't get extra credit for this, but at least I'm not unleashing more terrible lyrics to terrible songs to a yet unformed terrible band out into the world.