Every day, students at Boise State use their cell phones and laptops to send thousands of text messages and emails, or to check whether an assignment is due on the popular scholarly website Blackboard.
As the internet and technology have become integrated more into the education system, students are expected to keep up with the changing times, but for some professors like Rick Moore, chair of the Communication Department at Boise State, sometimes technology has no place in the classroom.
“Typically with a lecture and discussion class, I take a hard line against technology use,” Moore said. “It’s not that I don’t understand that learning can take place with those technologies, the difficulty is that they are a distraction for most students.”
Moore allows technology use in the classroom when necessary to learn a concept or complete in class work, but he thinks excluding technology from the classroom is necessary to engage students in focused thought.
“Theoretically, in a classroom setting, you are really trying to think critically, and thinking critically requires a sustained train of thought and those distractions (cell phones and laptops) can be detrimental,” Moore said.
Moore said there are a number of things competing for student attention online including email, Facebook, sports scores, or the latest Youtube sensation. Moore thinks society may eventually accept constant distraction as an educational norm.
“It might be that our society is going to move to the point where logic doesn’t matter as much and critical thinking doesn’t matter as much,” Moore said.
For now however, Moore requires his students to focus on the task at hand, free of text messages and Facebook posts.
“To me, critical thinking requires great attention and great focus,” Moore said.
Boise State students like sophomore kinesiology major Trevor Summers think technology limits should not be imposed by professors students should take personal responsibility when it comes to use in the classroom.
“You’re paying, so if you don’t want to pay attention, that’s your fault,” Summers said.
Junior biology major Stephanie Grigg thinks teachers should follow a classroom model set by one of her professors.
“My psychology teacher segregates our class by putting those with laptops on one side, those with paper and pen in the middle and the chronic texters are on the other side,” Grigg said. “She said she has kids and if her phone goes off she can answer it and she expects us to be able
to as well.”
While Grigg thinks technology should be allowed in a classroom setting, she could see how laptops and cellphones could distract others from focusing on the lecture or assignment.
“When you have someone playing World of Warcraft and there is someone sitting behind them that’s really trying to listen, they are going to be more focused on the screen one row down than they are on what the instructor is saying,”Grigg said.
Though technology use in the classroom is inevitable, some students think access to electronic devices should be at the sole discretion of the professor.
“I think when technology becomes a problem, then teachers need to intervene, but I also think it is super rude to sit there and text in class,” said junior biology major Blaire Davis. “If you want to use your technology to help you, which it is designed to do, then that’s great, but I don’t think everyone goes by that.”