Saturday, September 22, 2012

Class Policy on Electronic Devices

My syllabi typically include the following statement of policy:
The use of electronic devices of any kind (including cell phones and laptops) is forbidden in this class unless prior approval has been obtained from the course instructor.
I know there are all sorts of ways that technology contributes to learning, but in my experience the potential distractions outweigh the benefits in a college classroom setting. This is how I put it this year:
There are other important events, like funerals, where you turn off your phone as a matter of common courtesy. This is one of them. We are paying attention to the message of the text. The text message can wait until after class.


Karen said...

Very clever! I like it. Even though I have a Psalter on my phone, and could easily get a Bible on there too, I can't really see ever using it in church.

Jeromey said...

I'm very intrigued by this and have forwarded your post to our faculty.

How is this received by students? How many exceptions do you grant, and on what conditions? Are you alone in expressing this policy, or do other Briercrest faculty employ similar restrictions?

I would say 95% of our students use laptops/tablets to take notes. At the same time, FaceBook and other distractions are pervasive.

d. miller said...

Hi Jero,

I get nods of agreement when I explain the rationale. I have no question about adopting the policy in my first and second year classes. This year I wondered if I was being too paternalistic in my 3rd year elective, but I still think it is a good idea in larger upper-level courses. I would never ban laptops in a seminary class.

A down-side: Violations of the rule are irritating; dealing with them is distracting for me and possibly the class.

I typically grant an exception to anyone who sends me an email saying something to the effect of "I will only use my laptop in class for note-taking purposes."

I've heard of one other faculty member who prohibits lap-tops.