Mobile phones in class? Some profs say it's OK

(Illustration/Tribune News Service)
(Illustration/Tribune News Service)

Students never know a teacher’s style of teaching until they sit down on their first day of class. For many students, a big question in a new classroom is whether they will be able to use their laptop or mobile devices.

Some teachers will forbid the technology altogether, saying that it is nothing but a distraction. However, other teachers believe that technology plays a vital role in the learning process. Weber State University professors are all over the map in terms of how they feel about this matter.

“I have no policy about this,” said Robert Fudge, an associate professor and philosophy program coordinator.

New buildings on WSU’s campus make technology available in many forms. For instance, the Social Science Building will undergo extensive renovations within the next couple years. The biggest focus of this project is to take the technological innovations that are present in the more modern buildings on campus and put them in the Social Science Building.

Certain professors don’t want to discourage technology to the point where students are unable to use their devices to help them with their coursework. They go out of their way to make technology a part of the class.

“I have no policies and use extensively laptops and/or mobile devices in my classroom, meaning I have students answer polls and questions using those devices,” Dr. Leah Murray, professor of political science and philosophy, said. “Also, I have loved when I say ‘I am not sure of this answer’ and a number of students Google the answer and share it in class.”

Occasionally, a professor is keenly aware of the value of technology. It plays as significant of a role in their life as it does in their students.

“I have no problem with students using laptops or tablets in the classroom,” Lauren Fowler, professor of neuroscience, said. “I like to take notes on mine too.”

Some professors separate students who are using technology from the rest of the class. They don’t want to eliminate technology altogether, but they also don’t want their use of technology to distract everyone else in the class. Their rules seek a balance between outlawing technology altogether and making it a regular part of their classes, they say.

“I allow the use of laptops but students must sit in the back of the class, so as not to distract other students, and if the clicking of the keyboard is too noisy, they’re asked to turn it off ,” Bruce Bayley, graduate director and professor in the criminal justice department, said. “Tablets and cell phones are fine, unless they’re texting during class or talking, otherwise become a distraction.”

Education, like technology,  is in a constant state of evolution. Ultimately, the decision of technology in the classroom will be determined by the instructor and whether they believe it is a help or a hindrance.