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.