By Sam Rabuck
At the expense of pointing out the obvious, it’s 2015. Technology is incredible, and we continue to see it improve across the board, especially in communication and entertainment. For the most part, communication and entertainment technologies have become one and the same. The most prime examples are smartphones, laptops and tablets.
These devices are invaluable to us college students. Smartphones and tablets are sophisticated enough to store copious amounts of data and run applications that are entertaining along with others that are academically beneficial. These devices are also relatively small, and can fit easily in a pocket or backpack.
However, these technologies have been the source of much controversy in the classroom over the past few years as their use has become increasingly more prevalent among college students. Thus, we are left with varying instructor policies regarding the use of such technology in the classroom.
It’s not fair to those students who make proper use of technology in the classroom to have the technological capabilities he or she paid good money for stripped from them due to the behavior of others.
Generally, an instructor will go over his or her policies pertaining to technology on the first day of class.
There are those professors who don’t seem to mind—or are oblivious—when students are zoned into a device for the duration of the class period.
On the other hand, there are professors with policies outlined in their respective syllabi explaining that the unauthorized use of technology is strictly forbidden.
As a student body, we need to be responsible when it comes to using these technologies in the classroom. With that being said, it is not reasonable to forbid students from using any form of technology for the purpose of taking notes or otherwise supplementing the learning experience.
Granted, it seems overwhelmingly likely that instructors enacting these policies do so in order to ensure that other students are not being distracted. And that’s a perfectly valid reason.
It’s safe to say we’ve all been in class with that person who’s scrolling through Reddit, Pinterest or watching highlights on ESPN.com. It can either be annoying or entertaining, but it’s nonetheless distracting.
Students in class have always found ways to distract themselves and others around them. It’s nothing new. The dying art of note passing, zoning out and staring out the window (or at the cute student near you) has been a source of distraction for as long as classrooms have existed.
Yes, some students use their technology for purposes that don’t enhance their learning experience by sending messages, browsing through social media or surfing the Internet in general.
But make no mistake, many students utilize their abilities to organize and take notes on their devices. As is true with many of us at The New Hampshire, being able to type notes is beneficial for those reasons.
It seems as though the only way we are going to get instructors to be more lenient on the use of technology in classrooms is by using them effectively and responsibly. Some professors have been known to have technology use contracts with their students. As a staff, we think that’s a great solution to resolve this conflict.
As for instructors reading this, give us a chance. At the very least, allow us students to sign some form of contract indicating the expectations for the use of technology.
It’s time we start acting like it’s 2015.