Laptops And Phones In The Classroom: YAAAAYYY!

In her article, Anya Kamenetz explores different attitudes towards using electronic devices in the classroom. While some teachers find this habit as “distracting”, “unhealthy”, and useless others see positive points in using laptops and cellphones during classes. After reading this article, I really could not decide whether I am happy with using of laptops or cellphones in the classrooms or not. To be more precise, I am skeptical about the approaches to control how and to what extent students should use these kind of devices.

My concern is about the students’ ability to choose what they want to learn. I believe there is a different between a primary school pupil and a college student. The former does not have the control over the content he/she is going to learn. For the good or bad, all of us have to learn┬ásome level of math, literature and sciences by a certain age. This makes me think, if we do not “choose” what to learn then we allow ourselves more freely to be distracted as soon as we lose our interest in the topic/teacher/and etc.

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Therefore, in my view in K-12 education, to the point that students are forced to take and learn a course, “self-governing” sort of policy for using laptops and cellphones not only is not fair but also does not make sense! We have not given them the primary freedom to choose what they want to learn and then we expect to have all their attention in a democratic way!

However, when it comes to college because of the freedom to choose the courses, asking students to use laptops and cellphones upon their will, makes sense and is fair. Although, there might be many other incentives to take a course (getting a certificate, and etc.) rather than pure interest, yet due to the inherent optional characteristics of the university courses, students feel more internal obligation to focus on the course material. In this case, self-governing over technology is in line with the values of higher education!

8 thoughts on “Laptops And Phones In The Classroom: YAAAAYYY!

  1. Nice post. I agree that college students should be allowed to use their laptops in the classrooms. In my opinion, the fact that using laptops could cause distraction is not a legitimate reason to forbid them in class. As I wrote in my post, students can distract themselves in myriad ways, with or without laptops, if they want to.

  2. I agree that there should be different levels of control for students at different ages/stages, but when we consider about controlling to what extent students should use digital devices, we should also take the possible individual differences among them in mind. For me as a foreign-language speaker, when I start my learning in a high-level graduate course in English, having a mobile phone around to check some concepts is very helpful to follow the whole class…

    • Yes definitely! As I mentioned in my post I think banning electronic devices is by no means an effective approach for enhancing education experience, even in case of K-12. I discuss that self-governing policies for using electronic devices, in k-12 education, is more of a sham due to compulsory nature of courses.

  3. I agree that there has to be some intentionality behind the use of laptops and cell phones K-12. One question your blog does make me think of is that (just like anything else) – if we forbid laptop and cell phone use, maybe not K-12 but more like 9-12, then how and who teaches those students the utilization and the etiquette of acceptable use/misuse in college? What I mean is can we expect UGs to know what the acceptable terms are if they haven’t been role-modeled or taught about it before? K-8, I think there is some research on how too much technological gadgets affect brain development, so I won’t go there. Read on Selva’s blog how I’ve used it in the past and tell me what you think (

    • You made a very interesting point indeed. It seems to me that there is a need for some sort of protocol for using electronic devices where student are allowed to. Like many other “new” phenomena, I guess pretty soon we get to the point that there is a need for behavioral shaping policies or as you rightfully mentioned etiquette regarding the electronic devices in educational arena. The question is when should be the starting point an how to define the rules in this evolving era of technology.

  4. Nice post! I agree fully with you on the motivation here, it seems ridiculous to control every aspect of a student’s information intake by banning personal devices, especially if moral is to be retained. Perhaps banning excess usage or just otherwise throwing out periodic participation questions is a better route.

    • Thanks! Yes I agree with you that certain academic strategies (throwing out participation questions as you mentioned) would definitely work towards students better understanding of the issue while taking control of device utilization in the class.

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