Technology and Innovation in Higher Education

This infographic is from 2014, yet the findings are interesting to compare to classrooms today. During a pandemic, classrooms are virtual and technology has been crucial in keeping institutions running. Students may face more distractions, that are not limited to technology, through remote instruction at home. Additionally, instructors may have a harder time intervening when technology becomes a distraction because the features on zoom allow for one to mute or turn off their camera.

However, the actions of taking one’s phone, or answering a student’s phone in class, seem invasive to say the least. Also, I do not agree with the extra credit assignment to “bust” students who are using social media. If a student is distracted by a classmate, I wonder what other practical solutions would suffice. I think about a distracted student moving seats, but then the issue of accessibility arises. This also can create distractions for even more students as one packs up their belongings and relocates to a spot in the classroom that is more conducive to their learning. I struggle, personally, to find a solution that does not cause further harm, or publicly embarrass a student.

When I apprenticed for the class that I currently teach, the professor had the students read an article on the use of laptops in class. The name of the article is escaping me, or else I would include it here. The conclusion drawn was that laptops are incredibly distracting, not only for peers, but for the student who is using their devices for unrelated tasks (i.e. instant messaging, checking Facebook, or responding to emails).

Turning back to the present, I think there are effective ways to measure classroom engagement despite distractions. This parallels the argument that cameras on in a Zoom class violate students’ privacy and autonomy. For instance, students can do a poll or instructors can do break out rooms and monitor each room. These are just two ways that educators can assess learning, while also being mindful that remote instruction is relatively new, therefore, hopefully we develop more creative ways of assessing student participation in the near future to prevent burnout and poor performance.

5 thoughts on “Technology and Innovation in Higher Education

  1. Azat Nurmukhametov

    Hi Steph,
    Thanks for sharing this infographic and your thoughts.
    This infographic is nicely done and very self-explanatory.
    I have a comment about using laptops and other devices for unrelated tasks (Facebook, etc) in the classroom. I think this is an example of the consequences of “boring” classes when students do not have enough motivation to listen their teachers carefully. And I believe that prohibiting to use laptops/ipads in the classroom could not effectively solve this problem. If the lesson itself is not interesting or important for students, they would not listen their teachers/professors carefully anyway. But I agree that in this case using laptops, at least, would not be distracting for the classmates. However I think that all teachers should do the best they can to make their lessons more interesting, attracting, and useful for all students.

    1. stephaniecooke Post author

      That’s an interesting take, Azat! I didn’t consider the onus of paying attention to be a responsibility of a lecturer. It’s interesting you mention it though because a friend was telling me about a guest speaker that attended her class. Her professor made a comment that folks were being disrespectful to the guest speaker by being on their phones — she knew they were on their phones because why else would they be looking down at their laps? This is interesting, however, because the professor does not allow cameras to be off in her class. So if you want students to be virtually present, how ARE faculty making the environment as engaging as possible? Of course, one could argue that the guest speaker wasn’t that engaging (therefore, proving your point).

  2. Omobolanle Ruth Ogunseiju

    Hi Steph,
    Thanks for a very informative and interesting blogpost.
    I also particularly find the Facebook rule invasive. I believe a professor instructing students to do such thing on social media can as well be regarded as a right/ freedom infringement. Social media is where most people feel comfortable, being bullied on this platform may not be good. It can even result in low self esteem to say the least. This is because others (who are not part of the class) may be able to view such comments or posts, and this may ruin the student’s social life.
    I also concur with the points from the ‘laptop use article’. I remember last fall, when we were engaged in in-person classes, sometimes when I am getting bored in the class, I find myself looking at what others are using their laptops for (though just a glimpse). Some for messaging, emails, and surfing the web, and others simply for canvas or school work. So, I guess I can affirm that laptops in class may be distracting as well.

  3. Zakia

    Hi Stephanie,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this infographic! I agree that technology can be a distraction in the classroom (as well as in our virtual classrooms!). I think the “bonus” assignment is invasive as well and it also causes other students to not pay attention to their class because they are looking to “bust” their classmates and earn the bonus credit. This would also lead to mistrust between classmates, causing a divide in the classroom.
    I have to admit that I also get distracted during some of my courses (especially now) and have found myself opening new tabs on my internet browser or checking my email during an online class. I agree with Azat’s comment above that the onus on having an interesting and engaging class is on the professor and this will help boost student engagement and prevent them from getting bored and distracted. Thanks for your post!

  4. monerah

    Thank you Stephanie for sharing your thought with us. In the past, although initially dismissed as a distraction, technology has grown to dominate society in every conceivable way. This has led to the view that the education sector has also had to develop with it, implementing a curriculum that enables students to develop their understanding of technology so that they are able to benefit the workforce once they become old enough. Additionally, It was also found that there were numerous problems within this application of technology in the classroom, not least because of the fact that teachers were not always ready for its use and lacked training and confidence when using technology. This lack of confidence and training meant that students suffered greatly from using technology because the literature notes that it was simply used as an expensive way of projecting images, rather than allowing them to embrace technology and learn how to apply it in their own learning.


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