Here's an example of why banning laptops in the classroom (or other public forums) is stupid: The VP debate: Candidates, questions, and queries:
If information is the currency of democracy, as Thomas Jefferson allegedly said, then during last Thursday's vice-presidential debate between Senator Biden and Governor Palin a lot of people used Google Search to get a bit wealthier, metaphorically speaking. Using Google Hot Trends, we can see some of the more interesting things that people were researching...
The things people were searching on is quite interesting. Looks to me like people were engaged and asking questions back at the candidates via Google. In a small classroom setting a student could ask, "What's a madrasah?" and an informative conversation could ensue. In a large lecture hall where the information is pushed (just like television) then this doesn't happen.
People ask about the educational value of technology enhanced learning. One look at the Google queries during the VP debate tells me there was a lot of learning taking place. Bringing the outside into the classroom makes it a richer place.