Students are constantly checking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates, even during class.
“Laptops, cellphones – it’s a mess,” Dr. Christopher Sharrett, communication and the arts professor, said. “These are distractions that prevent student participation.”
According to Sharrett, many instructors have outlawed cellphones and laptops during classes, but it’s a catch-22. “Students have come up to me and asked if they could take notes on their laptops during class,” Sharrett said. “Usually, that is what they do and they do well in my class. So I hate having to punish students who use their laptops for note-taking purposes only.”
Kelly Shea, an English professor and the director of the Writing Center, said she relies on students using their laptops in her class because several of the activities are online.
“I don’t have big classes,” Shea said. “It is much easier to control what students are doing in class.”
Although she has small classes, Shea acknowledged the difficulties professors teaching lectures face. I understand that some faculty members don’t have the same luxury,” she said.
According to communication and the arts professor Dr. Kathleen Rennie, the use of cellphones and laptops is prohibited during her lectures.
“In PR classes the policy is not to allow phones or laptops unless there is a special circumstance,” she said. Rennie said believes this helps maintain student participation. “The policy keeps students engaged with discussions rather than distracted by their social media,” she said.
Shea has a similar outlook on cellphones in the classroom. “Phones were always banned,” Shea said.” One comment usually does it and students put it away.”
However, if students give prior notice of an emergency, Rennie and Shea agree that it is OK for students to leave class and take the call.
“Social media is definitely a distraction during classes,” junior Lauren Sicker said. “It’s constantly updating and a lot of times during class; I feel like I’m not engaged.”
“It’s hard, especially when I take notes on PowerPoints I always feel tempted to check Facebook,” junior Samantha McCormick said.
“During long two-and- a-half hour classes, it’s hard not to resort to social media,” said speech pathology major Jaclyn Colopietro. “It’s difficult to pay attention for that long without breaks especial- ly if I have access to Facebook and online shopping.”
Sharrett said that his policy on allowing students to use computers in class fluctuates. “I find new ways of negotiating the problem,” he said. “Some semesters I outlaw cellphones and laptops completely while others I do not.”
According to Sharrett, the fight against social media has been an uphill battle. “Technology is winning because people are addicted.”
Rachel Hassett can be reached at Rachel.email@example.com.