Electronic Device or Not?

Some teachers forbid their students to use any electronic device in the class. I was in a such class. From the perspective of a student, I do think electronic device will decrease efficiency in class learning. It’s human nature that we are easily get distracted by any prominent external stimulus. Use of laptop and other electronic device drastically elevates the possibilities of occurrence of these distractions. So electronic device may have negative effects on learning. Meanwhile, in some class, teaching is a type of performance and the teacher may feel upset or frustrated when these careless audience don’t pay attention to his/her performance.

As an instructor, however, I never ask my student not to use laptop. Just like we did every time in GEDI class, use of electronic device is able to improve learning. The line between facilitating learning and hindering learning by electronic device is subtle, which depends on the methodology used in teaching. When comes to traditional lecture, as far as I am concerned, teacher is the center of the activities in the class and use of electronic device will threaten the central position of the teacher and become distractions of learning. Learner-centered class, on the other hand, encourage students to adopt their own ways to acquire knowledge and communicate with each other. Electronic device then become a powerful tool to enhance learning. To sum up, I don’t think we should give a conclusion about whether we should allow students to use electronic device or not. The most important consideration would be whether this helps students in their learning or not.

8 thoughts on “Electronic Device or Not?”

  1. Yangxiao, I completely agree with you that we should not make a decision for our students to use electronic devices in classrooms. I usually am guided by the following two factors for not enforcing any social media or electronic device policy that bans their use in my classes. First, my classes, most of the times, require students to use computers. And hence, it is very difficult for me to monitor the tabs they have opened when they are on their computers. Second, I personally do not want to decide for them whether or not they should be using electronic devices. They are young adults (well, most of them are) and hence, they should be able to make smart decisions for themselves. And to add to that, sometimes, people (including myself) need to zone themselves out for a few minutes to engage with social media or any other “distraction” to bring their focus back to the classroom.

  2. I have recently seen (maybe it was a meme or something, I’m too distracted by this shiny blog-commentinc-laptop-device to remember) a hanging cloth – blanket or sheet – with pockets sewn into it. Each student had a name on a pocket, and was instructed to put their phones in that pocket at the beginning of each class. The instructor took role every day, and did so by checking the phone blanket pockets. If you were in class but did not surrender your phone, you were marked absent. Thought it was a pretty cool idea.
    Although in order for it to work each student would have to have a phone – not an unreasonable assumption these days, but there are exceptions. ..

  3. Thank you for your post. I agree with you. Teachers should leave the freedom to the student to choose. Nobody is making the student come to class. It’s his responsibility. No need to treat him like a child. And if he doesn’t have a laptop he will find a million other ways to get distracted if the material is not interesting to him. It’s the teacher’s job to keep the talk interesting to each and every student.

  4. I definitely agree that the decision of whether or not to use electronic devices should be left to the students, I question whether they will make the right choice. It is so easy to be drawn into using technology for the wrong reasons (e.g. messaging friends, looking at Pinterest, completing homework for another class) that they might not see as a distraction per se, but we as educators know is. I think that the key here lies in the other point that you made about teachers creating a learner-centered environment, where students play a much more influential role and take ownership in their learning. I feel that this will encourage more students to use technology in a productive way in the classroom, rather than a means to be physically present but not having to be mentally engaged.

  5. Thanks for the post! I strongly agree that a lot of times teachers make rules in class that allow them to stamp their authority on the class, which may or may not be a learner-centered practice. Its almost like teachers sometimes feel threatened that the electronic device is a more powerful learning tool than the lecturer.

  6. Hi,

    I see your point and I totally agree. Teachers should leave it up to the students to decide if they need the computer or not, moreover the instructor should evaluate if the computer can be integrated in class as a learning tool. At the end of the day, everyone’s teaching style and learning style in the case of the students are different and we should have freedom to choose what method we would like to employ. Variety and freedom of chose is important in creating a good learning environment.

  7. I agree with you opinion that whether use electronic device in class should depend on whether it can benefit student’s learning. In addition, it also depends on what kind of classes. If the class is about basic principle/knowledge, students may be encouraged to use their computer after class so they can more focus on the class. If they have want to refer to other knowledge/subject or have an extension based on the class, they can search those information after they well understand the class. But if the class is a discussion-based class, students may learn better if they can search the information they need in time by electronic device. Overall, it will be beneficial if instructors provide a guide for student before the class.

  8. well, I agree with you but also disagree. I think one can get away with ‘distractions’ in some classes and not get away with it in others. A class in which a student has to learn a life saving medical technique should be free from any form of distraction even if the student is trying to understand this procedure using the device. He/she can do that later. Another example would be an Introduction to Biohazards lab. You would want all your students to be focused on you in these classes since any mistake they make is yours as well. However, there are also many good sides with technology since it can be used sometimes, with great success, concurrently with a teaching session. It just depends on the class.

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