Technology Disruptions in the Classroom: What Gives?

by Janine Kritschgau '18 photo (3)Technology use in the classroom is getting out of control. I enjoy my social media just like most Generation Xers, but I have not reached the point of being addicted to texting, Facebook, and online shopping the way others seem to be. Unfortunately, the situation is getting dire. Just walk into any classroom and take a close look at its students. You will see them checking for status updates on their phones under tables or hidden behind books and computer screens. You’ll find students using iMessage to text their friends from laptops, and search for the hottest deals on a new sweater.

Educational institutions are struggling to balance the benefits and pitfalls of allowing students to use technology in class. Laptops can be useful for recording lectures, taking notes, and doing research, but can also simultaneously impede the classroom experience. Professors are taking sides; some are prohibiting the use of any sort of device during class, while others trust that students are using technology for educational purposes.

I am sorry to have to burst the bubble, but I rarely see the latter taking place. Even students who use computers to take notes often get distracted at least once, wandering onto social media.

Some students are agitated by professors cracking down on technology. Claiming that since it is their education, these students believe they have the right to shape their own classroom experience. But what they do not understand is that their behavior not only negatively affects their own academic experience, but also hampers the environment for everyone else. The truth is that glancing around the room to find students checking their Facebook, Yik-Yaking, or texting is distracting to other students and to the professor.

Professors aren’t blind. When they catch a student getting distracted, some pause the lesson and reprimand the student, often giving a short talk about how they feel disrespected and annoyed. Some go so far as to collect all cell phones in the class. No matter how dramatic the reaction, one thing is obvious; it’s a total waste of time, and therefore money.

The average student, taking four courses that meet on average twice a week, will attend 224 classes within the academic year. With tuition rates hovering at about $60,000, each class costs about $270. By this logic, every minute a professor has to spend scolding students and lecturing about respectful decorum in the classroom is worth just under $5. Considering some classes are as short as 55 minutes, wasting even a moment disrupting the classroom experience is shameful. Students in my classes, beware: the next time you cause a major disruption, you owe me a Starbucks.

Reel Talk: ‘Interstellar’ is a technical marvel and a beautiful film

Editorial: On Skidmore’s Sustainability Ventures