EducationPop QuizTechnology

Pop Quiz: Cell Phones In The Classroom

Cell Phone

Cell phone by Marc Noon

Howdy, everyone my name is JoDee and I am new to these here parts. I am not sure why I am typing with a western accent like I am some old school cowgirl. Actually, I am a college educator in physics and astronomy so the only thing I wrangle are symbols in equations. This past week we just started the new semester and I was an observer to something that I found to be curiously ridiculous. I thought it would be a good subject for my first pop quiz.

Classes at my institution usually start on the hour and in one of the classrooms there were two professors chatting with one another about ten minutes before the hour. Meanwhile, the normal hustle and bustle of students filing into the classrooms and getting ready for class was occurring. One of the aforementioned professors (not me) was just visiting the classroom and having a friendly conversation with the professor who was scheduled to teach in that room in about ten minutes. As the teachers chatted the students were comparing notes from last class and talking about the homework. Two students in the front of the class were looking at the homework solutions that the professor had posted on the class website via a cell phone. Well, when the visiting professor saw the cell phone she went ballistic. She scorned the poor girl who was holding the cell phone stating “cell phones are not allowed anywhere in this classroom” and “leave your technology at the door.” The student tried to explain that she was just looking at the homework solutions and that class had not even started (did I mention it was ten minutes before class) but she just got yelled at again.

Now this was not my classroom I was just an observer but I think this professor went a little overboard. In my class cell phones are not allowed out while I am lecturing. I have a strict policy that if I see them during lecture then the student who has violated the rule will have their final grade dropped by 5% every time they violate the rule. However, before class I could care less what you do as long as it does not involve anything illegal and disruptive to the school. On the other hand I have gone to professional development classes that encourage the use of cell phones as ways to engage the student.

So my question is what is your policy on cell phones in class? Do you think cell phones can enhance the class lesson or are they just a distraction?

The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons (ET).

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JoDee is an adjunct faculty instructor of astronomy and physics at various colleges around her hometown in the midwest. When she is not trying to get her cat, Pixel, off of her laptop she is observing variable stars and researching black holes.

1 Comment

  1. January 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm —

    My school’s policy used to be that cell phones must be in a locker, but they have recently lightened up on the rule and left it to teacher discretion. I allow students to record their homework on their phone and during study hall they may listen to music or watch a movie unless they are on my watch list for poor grades. Photos are strictly forbidden without permission and then usually only allowed if no people are in them, often a student wants to take a picture of a lab set up or a result for a lab report and sometimes they are so excited about what they did that they just want to take a picture of it to share.
    Something that I recently found out about is a site called Socrative, through it you can use cell phones as a student response system. I have not explored it yet, but it is on my list for this summer.

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