August 29, 2005

Re: Student Use of Technology in the Classroom

by Ruth

Received this email from an Associate Dean:

Students and faculty at the Law School expect that laptop computers, cell phones, and other digital devices will not be used during class in a manner that is unreasonably distracting to fellow students or the instructor. A faculty member may ask a student to leave the classroom if a student's conduct becomes unreasonably distracting or otherwise inappropriate in the judgment of the instructor. Any faculty member is free to set a technology use policy for his or her individual classes, which may include banning the use of these devices.
In other words: law professors like to hear themselves talk. That's why they became law professors. They also would like it if you liked to hear them talk. So they get a little annoyed when, instead of hanging on their every word, you are chatting/ playing minesweeper/ shopping on eBay.

While being asked to leave the classroom might be a little embarrassing, it's really not the answer. After all, with blind grading, how are they going to know that exam number 238733 was the same guy that they asked to leave because he was in a chat room back in September?

Perhaps some professors will make that part of their optional technology use policy and will dock some amount of points off your final grade for technology use infractions, but is it really that serious?

The way I see it (and our Dean seemed to agree at a question and answer session I attended last spring), if a professor can't keep my attention, whose fault is that really? Probably mine, but it doesn't change the fact that if she can't keep my attention, no amount of banning instant messenger is going to help. Back before I had a laptop, I doodled. I doodled masterpieces during classes that were uninteresting. Or I daydreamed. I can easily do those things again, and I still won't be paying attention.

So why be an arse about it? If I can't make myself pay attention to the professor, she can at least let me be semi-productive by paying some bills online and catching up with an old friend.

In the meantime, I'm still going to chat until I'm caught.

Do your schools have technology use policies? If so, what are they like, and do they work?

August 29, 2005 06:30 PM | TrackBack

Armen kicked off some discussion of wireless in classrooms last year. If my school has a policy, no professor I've had has bothered to exercise whatever powers she may wield under it. Their attitude generally seems to be that if we don't want to pay attention, fine -- we'll either be ignored completely, or ritually humiliated by getting called upon. (Tip: if you participate a lot at the beginning of each class, when your classmates are still waking up, you're unlikely to be called upon later. Talking too much at the beginning of the semester can have a similar effect. Professors may like to hear themselves talk, but they rarely enjoy sharing the stage with students who have the same proclivity.)

Posted by: PG at August 29, 2005 08:28 PM

Oops, sorry for the repeat post. I'll check out Armen's. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: Ruth at August 29, 2005 09:15 PM
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