Professor shatters distracting laptop
Some professors give warnings or grade deductions to students who fail to adhere to classroom policies. Others send them away with shattered laptops.
When Kieran Mullen, OU physics professor, noticed that students’ laptop usage was a distraction during his lectures, he planned a scene to get students to pay attention. During a general physics for engineering majors class Monday, Mullen placed a student’s decoy, non-functioning laptop into a plastic container and poured liquid nitrogen on it.
“He said: ‘this is just liquid nitrogen, so it alone won’t hurt the computer. But this will’,” said Lindsey Brinkworth, University College freshman. “Then he threw it to the ground and told him to have IT fix it.”
Most students usually find Mullen to be considerate of students and attentive to their needs, said Jonathan Scranton, University College freshman.
“He is one of those quirky kind of professors but to actually break someone’s laptop seems a little harsh,” Scranton said.
While many students thought the scene was a genuine display, others suspected it was a hoax staged only to warn them.
“I was a little concerned at first, but I thought later that it was a little too convenient that he would have liquid nitrogen and a Styrofoam box in a back room like that,” said Brinkworth. “Either way, he got his point across.”
The professor performed a similar stunt five years ago when he found students using cell phones during class. Mullen said students who are using electronic devices during class are distracting themselves and other students.
“It’s silly and ostentatious, but it’s memorable,” Mullen said, referring to the stunt. “I just hope it drives the point home that if you’re in class, you really need to be here.”
Since the classroom display, various students have considered bringing their laptops to a lecture session as a group to see Mullen’s reaction, Brinkworth said.
“If I get an e-mail from the rest of class saying they’ll do it, then maybe I will,” Brinkworth said. “But my laptop was pretty expensive, so I’m not sure.”