I drew this stick figure recently when I showed a documentary during class. I usually take notes when I show a film during class. This time, I just felt like making a self-portrait. It also serves as commentary about different things that people might be doing during class. Simply put, our attention is divided. It always has been and always will be. Students can text, doodle, and daydream. I can ask students to put away their texting machines, but I can't ask them to stop daydreaming. I would like their attention, and I try to maintain it, but I can't command it.
I have tried different approaches during the texting era. One semester I asked students to help me craft a mobile device policy. The semester didn't turn out much differently than when I had a customary policy on my syllabus asking students not to use their devices during class. In other words, the semester was kind of like any other: some students didn't use their phones during class, others did.
I think Nathan Palmer makes a good point about this subject when he writes: "I’m not sold on the idea that the time and energy it takes to get students to put away their phones is really worth it." I agree with Nathan that I don't want to use up my goodwill by policing students' cell phone use. My views on this issue might change in the future. For now, I'm lenient about cell phones in the classroom and my approach is to let students figure out for themselves if its in their best interest to text during class. My judgment, at this time, is that the occasional use of devices during class for non-class purposes does not interfere in a significant way with the process of learning. And I like having the ability to prompt students to use their devices to investigate something we're talking about during a class session.
Research confirms what we already know if we spend any time at all in a classroom: students often use their devices during class for non-class purposes. We can try to prohibit the use of devices. We can be lenient about devices. We can encourage students to make use of their devices for class purposes. There are lots of things we can do. If we're lenient, it doesn't automatically mean that all device use is acceptable. There are cases when we might judge a student's use of a device to be too distracting to other people in the room.
@Studygirl_1 @pegodaaj distraction is the deal-breaker tho, any device use in class that becomes distracting to me or others is an issueI don't think there is a single answer or "best practice" for what to do about devices in the classroom. Instructors have to determine what they think is the best approach for the learning environment they want to create in their classroom.
— Rhonda Ragsdale (@profragsdale) October 27, 2013
@CreateSociology I don't mid stopping for a min so they can tweet something or look something up - it gives time 4 the learning 2 breatheI think it's good when students are exposed to a variety of policies. And I think it makes sense for instructors to experiment with different ways of handling the situation. It helps me to share information and compare notes on how we respond to students using devices during class time. I'm always interested in hearing what other instructors and students think about this matter. I hope instructors and students will add their comments to this post. I'm interested in what kind of policy you prefer: "strict," "flexible," or whatever else you have tried or experienced. I like to think we're doing the best we can to figure this out together.
— Rhonda Ragsdale (@profragsdale) October 28, 2013