Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cell phones in class: I'm the "nice" professor

The semester is upon us again, and that means I've spent quite a bit of time lately revising my syllabi. Most of it is comprised of policy statements, and some of those policies are dictated by my institution (for example, missing 40% of classes results in a grade of FA, or failure for reasons of attendance). Others are my own (for example, I decide what proportion of the grade comes from exams, assignments, participation, etc.).

One policy I have that differs from many of my colleagues is that of the use of electronics. Many professors require students to put away cell phones (and, in some cases, laptops), whereas I don't, except during exams. There are several reasons for this.

One, I just don't feel like policing this. I tell students that if their technology use is disruptive, then they will be asked to put it away - for example, no using their cell phone as a phone. But I have better things to do than to see who is furtively texting under their desks.

Two, they are adults. They need to learn to manage their use of technology and other distractions now. We are allowed to use my cell phone in faculty meetings, after all.

Three, some of them are using them for legitimate course purposes. Some take notes on them. One student this semester takes photos of PowerPoint slides (I don't make the presentations available to students). Students occasionally use them to look up information on topics we are discussing in class. I'm all in favor of this.

So, I'm the "nice" professor who isn't so strict about these things - although I no doubt make up for it in other ways.

1 comment:

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