You’re sitting in class and you observe the students surrounding you””trying their best to ignore the professors. There is the guy in front of you watching the golf tournament, the girl on your right scrolling through Pinterest and the students next to you iMessaging each other while simultaneously planning their spring break trip on their laptops.
Technology in the classroom is nothing new to us, especially here at ACU, where you practically trip over the iMacs randomly sitting all over campus and iPads are thrown at you during Welcome Week.
But recently some professors are banning student use of devices in class. While we aren’t sure that technology really enhances our learning exponentially, the sans technology classrooms are conflicting with the messages that ACU administration and marketing uses to recruit students here.
Many professors who ban technology in class say they are not at odds with the university Mobile Learning Initiative, but rather believe their students are better suited without it in class. Some professors argue that the art of note-taking facilitates the learning process better, while others cite several bad experiences they’ve had with students on their devices in class.
Then again, some professors don’t care either way. There is one attitude floating around that says students are responsible for their own learning, and if that means paying all their attention to Facebook then that’s their own demise.
The problem herein lies in the miscommunication between classes and the administration. While ACU is requiring students to purchase iPads and providing training for faculty on ways to incorporate technology-based projects in their syllabuses, many faculty members are asking that students unplug from their devices all together.
It’s not a black-and-white issue, but has a huge gray area encompassing the Internet and Microsoft Word, which are essential in nearly every class. All we are asking for is some consistency, or that ACU marketing would at least do us a favor and resist using the “innovation” and “mobile-learning” as a ploy to lure students here when that isn’t necessarily the best way to learn.
I appreciate this article, and the author is exactly right; the marketing folks seem to be a year or so behind as most faculty I know ban or at least limit the use of convergence devices in their classrooms. This is not because we don’t believe students are adults, but because we realize how distracting it is to try to facilitate a learning environment with students’ whole world on a screen at their fingertips. Classes are based on a combination of lectures, discussion, quick group discussions, etc., and social media, games, and movies get in the way quickly.