This is primarily a pedagogical and/or supervision issue, not a student or technology issue. When are the students off task in this scenario? When the teacher is lecturing to them and they’re just supposed to sit passively and take notes. Are they engaged? Are they interested? Do they get other opportunities to use technology besides taking notes? It doesn’t appear so. If I were a student in those classes and I had a laptop, I’d be off task too [yawn].
Classroom management stems from good instruction. Engaging learning environments mitigate ‘off-task’ behavior. We need to stop blaming students or laptops for our own failure to create better learning spaces (and that’s true whether we’re talking P-12 or postsecondary). Mindless compliance from students? No thanks.
Good post for thought by Scott McLeod.