Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banning Student Use of Technology in the Classroom

McGill University in Canada is my alma mater and the most wonderful educational institution in the world. However, it is now one of the leaders in an unfortunate tendency to police student use of communication devices in the classroom:
Arash Abizadeh, a McGill political science professor, has already taken advantage of the new guidelines by completely banning the use of mobile computing or communication devices in his classrooms, barring extenuating circumstances. Abizadeh cited multiple studies linking evidence of the use of such devices in the classroom to poor academic performance, greater distraction for users and fellow students, and decreased ability to "digest and synthesize" main points.
As I said before, such measures reek of desperation experienced by professors who have no idea how to make their students interested in their subject. Enforcing such rules also infantilizes students by robbing them of a chance to learn to make their own choices and bear the consequences of those choices. If some of the students make a decision to waste the money they are paying for me to educate them, how is that my problem? If they believe it is more important for them to update their Facebook page than listen to my discussion of the Picaresque novel in Spain, who am I to argue with that belief? They are adults, they should learn to make these decisions for themselves. The are old enough to know where their own priorities lie.

The funny thing is that those same professors who keep moaning about the growing immaturity of today's college students are the ones who are the first to implement such high-school-like measures. As for me, I couldn't care less how students spend their time during my lectures. My job is to make my knowledge available to them. If they choose to forego the great opportunity to learn from me, that is their loss, not mine.


Pagan Topologist said...

I still do not think it is right for students to get help via electronic means during a test, which is when I ban such things.

Clarissa said...

I agree about a test, of course. Especially, in the disciplines where tests are geared towards asking the students to provide a correct answer instead of an analysis.