Education

To Ban or Not to Ban: What’s Your Policy on Mobile Devices in the Classroom?

Listen. Do you hear that click-press-patter of fingertips on a keyboard? Is it interrupting the lecture? Is the student taking notes or emailing a friend?

Pause for a moment. Scan the classroom. Are the downward faces tilted toward a glass screen? Does a soft glow emanate from below desks as statuses update, are liked, and text messages sent? A phone is held out. Is a picture being taken of the whiteboard and loaded into Evernote or is a video being recorded to be uploaded to Youtube.

Hear the soft tracings of a pen on paper. Are notes being taken or is a picture being drawn?

Students come to campus packing laptops, phones, and tablets. Some of them complete the trifecta and tote around gear like an embedded journalist. Their job is to learn. They’re bringing tools to accomplish this goal. Are students in for a shock when they enter a classroom and are told to stow their tablets or laptops or will they find an environment that encourages technology use?

The decision is the professor’s and in this post we want to hear from you.

What is your policy toward mobile devices in the classroom? How do you see the technology? And, if you are for or against the use of mobile technology, please share your reasons.

Timothy A. Lepczyk

Tim is an instructional technologist and former librarian. On the side, he writes fiction and poetry, and publishes the magazine Scintilla. You can follow him on Twitter at @thirdcoast.

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2 Comments

Kelli Williams

My policy is twofold, really.

The rule for my own class is no phones, period. I teach college freshmen who spend most of their day on Twitter, and I grew tired of seeing the tweets they sent during class time. The format of the course relies heavily on engaged discussion, not lecture, which is severely hindered by the constant distraction of texts, tweets, chats, etc.

For library instruction sessions, I hope for no phones, but I defer to the class professor’s policy. Typically we ask that the professors engage in the session, at least minimally, to help relate our material to theirs. Usually this means they “enforce” the same classroom etiquette expected in their own rooms.

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Gabriel Ferrer

In my classes, anything goes basically. Since the devices have utility, I let students use them. If they use them improperly, it is their decision to hinder their own learning.

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