The 2016 fall semester has started, and, as usual, professors are going over their syllabi to let students know about the classes they are taking. Many instructors have included a new policy that suspends all use of electronic devices in the classroom.
They are cracking down on technology by banning laptops, tablets, cellphones, even eBooks. In some cases, students caught using any device in the classroom without permission will be given a warning. In other cases, additional offenses will result in grade deductions.
Policies like these are unreasonable, especially if they affect students’ grades. Our society is technology-driven. Point deductions are excessive. Grades should only be dependent upon the students’ ability to perform on exams, homework and projects, not on whether they used their devices in the classroom.
We understand there are abuses of privilege and some students don’t pay attention. For better or worse, that is their right.
Cellphone use in the classroom is indeed getting out of hand, in some cases, but professors should understand that many of us must take responsibility for our own actions. For those of us students who are serious, not only about learning, but also about graduating, we realize we should give our full attention to the professor.
Others, who are less serious about paying attention, get the grades they deserve. If there are students who are abusing their freedom, and not paying attention due to their cellphone, those students should be penalized. Not the rest of us, who are using our devices to assist in our learning.
Despite what some may think, electronic devices can actually help students in the classroom. During lectures, students can type notes on their laptop faster than they can write by hand. Also, eBooks are a more valuable – and cheaper – option than the alternative textbook, in the sense that all information is at a fingertip reach away in a compact, lightweight, device.
Professors should also trust students to use their devices in the classroom because tuition is expensive, and if a student wants to waste their money not paying attention in class, that is on the student. This is not high school. Once students enroll in college, they should be treated as adults.
In a 2014 study by Cengage Learning, 74 percent of instructors report the move toward implementing technology in the classroom has increased students’ academic performance, and 73 percent say student engagement has improved with their courses. Less than 1 percent reported it has significantly decreased performance or engagement.
The same study was done for students. Eighty percent of college students, according to the survey, say implementing digital technologies in the classroom has subsequently increased their academic performance, and 77 percent say it has improved their engagement.
Professors with strict policies on devices in classrooms should rethink them. The world and education have continuously evolved. College students have adapted to technology. Electronic devices are a part of our lives, and, like it or not, are a big part of the way we learn.