Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This again: The use of devices in the classroom for nonclass purposes is on the rise.

From IHE:

Students waste about one-fifth of class time on laptops, smartphones and tablets, even though they admit such behavior can harm their grades, a new report found.

The average student uses those devices for "nonclass purposes" -- in other words, texting, emailing and using social media -- 11.43 times in class during a typical day. Since the survey was first conducted in 2013, the number of times students check their devices has increased from 10.93, according to the results.

Students also overwhelmingly support using devices in the classroom, with about 90 percent of respondents saying devices should not be banned. The students base their support mainly on two beliefs: that they can use devices without being significantly distracted, and that they should be free to use their devices whenever they want.

It took about thirty seconds for a commenter to weigh in with the old, 

The real problem is not the tech - it is the ability/inability of the instructor to gain and hold the student's attention.

Okay, I know, that's what I get for reading the comments, but look. I just just saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a packed movie theater. The woman sitting in front of me was on her phone the whole time. 

So a blockbuster movie with a 200 million dollar budget--a special-effects-laden spectacle whose sole purpose is to entertain--can't hold the attention of every single person in the audience. But apparently it's my fault when someone's attention wanders while we're trying to cover Porter's generic strategies. 

Also, I guess professors have become ten percent less engaging since 2013, because what else could have possibly contributed to the increase in students checking their devices? 

Read the whole thing here


  1. The last committee meeting I sat through, I checked my iPhone more than 11.43 times for "non-committee purposes." The last time I drove a car, I broke the law and used my iPhone for "non-driving" purposes (while driving). I don't blame the students. I don't blame the proffies. And I don't yet have all the answers. Maybe tomorrow.

  2. I do appreciate your observation that if Star Wars can't hold their attention, we don't stand a chance!

  3. To say their attention spans are limited is an understatement but as Bubba notes, it's a sign of the times. I wonder if it has a small effect on our evaluations as well. It's getting harder to engage them in class.

  4. I say let the precious dears have their toys. But only if we can actually grade them on the work they turn in and its real value. At my bullshit college, I have to pretty much pass everyone who doesn't die or drop out.

    So, why wouldn't they play with themselves?



  5. When admin gets wind of students being distracted because of people using their devices, they call you in the office and document what they call "poor classroom management".

    But the moment you do something about the phone usage, guess what happens?

    1. Um, exactly the same admin forcibly sodomizes you with a cattle prod (and always with fresh batteries, godmotherfuckingdammit) for "being rude to students"? That's what they do here at Fresno State: they'll do it every time.

    2. Or the flip side, when the "cutting-edge" LMS fails to deliver as promised or even lower-tech if posted weblink has the temerity to die without notification, the snowies all melt into helpless puddles and it becomes the instructor's obligation to magically breathe tech support life back into them.

      Meanwhile, the darlings who couldn't find an alternate link to a published article have moved on to cracking the encryption to the Star Wars digital download.

  6. I walked an interesting line in my last class of developmental writing: I did not forbid phones, but if I was talking to the class, and someone was on their phone, I called them on it. Mostly with a "*pssst! Put that down for now." Perhaps the humor let me get away with it, but it seemed to work oddly well: no one complained.

    I did notice that my students (many of them not native English speakers) were using their phones to look up words in our activities, which I was more than happy to encourage. They were taking the time to look up stuff on their own!*Does happy dance.*

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  8. Meh! Does any one actually believe that those figures have three digits of real precision? Or even two?

    The story here—in addition to being a "dog bites man" event—is one of no statistically significant change.