Faculty Focus published an article by Sydney Fullbright asking “Cell Phones in the Classroom: What’s your Policy?”. My initial reaction is “no”, but in reality, I found this policy difficult to enforce.
The rational for saying no was that cell phones are disruptive to learning and Sydney confirms this in her article, but what about the benefits of cell phone use?
I approve of students using the cell phone for family responsibilities, making notes and study aids, and looking up information relevant to learning. I’m also interested in using mobile technology to engage students in learning with apps like Socrative.
With both advantages and disadvantages, a simple policy on cell phone use in the classroom is not as easy as it sounds. The comments on the article are as useful as the article itself and I enjoyed reading solutions offered by other faculty. I most agree with the approach of making the policy a collaborative effort. I would present to students the advantages and disadvantages and ask them how we should enforce any policy we decide on.
Richard Felder uses active learning techniques when teaching chemical engineering students at North Carolina State University.
I’m always open to advice from the trenches so I really appreciated his “Sermons for Grumpy Campers” about how to counter student opposition to active learning. He presents his advice as “mini-sermons”. The first two are about group work, which really interested me. As a student, I hated group work. As a instructor, I’m contemplating how to incorporate group work into the classroom. Felder addressed both of my concerns by stating that group work is the way the world works and it is best for the student to learn how to cope now. Good point.
When you use a proven teaching method that makes students uncomfortable, it’s important to let them know why you’re doing it. If you can convince them that it’s not for your own selfish or lazy purposes but to try to improve their learning and grades, they tend to ramp down their resistance long enough to see the benefits for themselves.
It would be much easier for me to stand up at the front of the room and talk about a subject I know really well. I’m finding incorporating active learning strategies into class time much more challenging. I have to find the right balance between lecture and active learning, I have to select a strategy that I think will be effective, and I have to motivate students to venture outside of the their comfort zone. So why would I want to make more work for myself? Simply, what is the point of teaching if you are using ineffective techniques? Doing the job well means I have to step outside my comfort zone too.
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