Yale Professor Moves Class to Room Without Wi-Fi. Cue Outrage

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Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Students walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

A Yale lecture capped at 270 students? And no wireless Internet available? Dial up the anger on the New Haven, Conn., campus.

After Alexander Nemerov moved his popular course Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present from the Yale Law School auditorium that easily fit about 450 students to the more cramped Yale Art Gallery auditorium, he not only upset some students and alumni by capping the class size at 270 because of the smaller venue but also shocked some students who walked into a room devoid of wi-fi or cell service.

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The well-known professor tells the Yale Daily News he wanted the darker room so students could see the projected images of art better, enhancing the classroom experience. Add the darker room to the fact that there was no wi-fi and he had a lecture hall he could get used to.

“In the past, many students in the lecture were doing Facebook or e-mail or all kinds of things on their computers,” Nemerov tells the Yale paper. “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 to the capacity of the auditorium.”

Nemerov teaches the most popular class on campus, with about 500 students vying to get into one of the seats for the 60-minute lecture. Those slots filled in two minutes, leaving some to bemoan the move to a smaller classroom.

While students claim they can easily multitask among e-mail, Facebook and his lecture, Nemerov says overwhelming evidence in students’ lives and grades proves differently.

Nemerov is sympathetic to those who didn’t get into the class but says he’s more concerned about students’ seeing the artwork clearly and actually paying attention to the content, not to Facebook.

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