Community standards for technology use

Article that inspired this blog post: Should students be allowed to use smartphones in the classroom?

Picture of iPads in ClassroomOne of the trends I noticed throughout my time in college was how some teachers prohibited use of electronic devices, including computers, in the classroom. It was a pretty standard statement on most syllabi. As time went on it and laptops became more prevalent some teachers started to allow their use in class. In my graduate school program currently there is probably not a day in class that you will not see the majority of the students with laptops on the table.

Last week I wrote about assumptions people when they see others on mobile devices and this week I want to make a suggestion for mobile devices in the classroom and technology-use guidelines. Whether you are a faculty member or student organization advisor you could try using collaborative methods for creating technology guidelines. I have not had a chance to try this personally in the student organization I advise, but I think it would be an improvement from the blanket statement “no technology allowed” that currently governs the organization meetings. At the beginning of the year I would like to give the student leaders the opportunity to determine their guidelines.

I am interested to observe what guidelines students/participants will decide are acceptable through a collaborative method. I noticed in the document from Simon Bates and Alison Lister at the University of British Columbia that students decided mobile phones could be used as class aids. I think that is a great policy! According to the ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and IT, 74% of students reported that smartphone use in class is either banned or discouraged. If we all collectively agree to stop judging mobile phone use, maybe they will become universally acceptable in the classroom.

Another interesting note in the community standard document that Dr. Chris Linder pointed out was that students decided it was acceptable for students to leave class to answer a phone call from a potential employer. Do you feel like that is an acceptable reason to interrupt class?

Lastly, if your student org/classroom expectations allow for computers and tablets but not smartphones my question for you to think about is -Why?- What is the difference between an iPad and an iPhone? Or an Android vs a Tablet vs a Computer? If you allow tablets but not phones, you could be prohibiting access for students that are less-economically advantaged. The student that owns a smartphone but can not afford an iPad can typically do the same things on their phone as a on a tablet. I know this post does not address issues of access for students that may not have smartphones, tablets, or laptops but I wanted to get a conversation started. According the the ECAR report, 89% of students surveyed own a laptop (9 out of 10) and 76% own a smartphone. More statistics about device ownership can be found in the report (starting on page 22).

Lately I have been thinking a lot about technology guidelines and the Pedagogy Unbound article got me thinking about how policies could be changed to improve student success. I want to try the collaborative method with the next student organization I advise. How do you think technology-use guidelines should be created?

[photo credit]

Dahlstrom, Eden, J.D. Walker, and Charles Dziuban, with a foreward by Glenda Morgan. ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013 (Research Report). Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research, September 2013, available from

What are you doing on that cell phone?

Technology, specifically cell phones, take the blame for a lot of things these days. The assumptions people make regarding mobile device usage can be very irritating. Usually people assume negative intent or behaviors when individuals are on their phone, such as that they are distracted or not paying attention. I love this meme (found on Twitter) poking fun at the claim that technology makes us antisocial:


Two examples that come to mind:

  • A professor scolding (and embarrassing) a student on a phone during a small group discussion, when in reality the individual was googling material related to the conversation to help answer questions of other group members.
  • Someone who uses a phone app to track their workouts at the gym and another gym patron commenting on their phone usage in a negative way.

Have you ever found yourself judging or thinking negative thoughts about someone that is on their phone? How would those 2 situations be different if the individuals were using paper and pencil? Would they receive different reactions?

…I think they would. People can just as easily not be paying attention if they are day-dreaming, drawing, reading a book, or writing a to-do list on paper. I want to challenge you not to assume negative intent if you see someone on a mobile device. I am also challenging myself to be more cautious about my assumptions. It is true that phones can be tools of distraction (in class, in meetings, etc) but they can also be tools for success. My iPhone does the same thing as my iPad, but often phones are seen as less productive than tablets or paper. If you are unsure or think someone is not paying attention, ask questions about their phone usage next time instead of automatically assuming they are distracted.


Technology in Student Affairs

Infographic for course on technology in student affairs

Graduate programs in college student affairs/higher education need a course that focuses on technology. My graduate program thoroughly covers student development theories, foundations, practical experience, helping skills, campus ecology, interventions, assessment, and more. We have not extensively discussed serving online students or technology skills that student affairs professionals need to be successful now and in the future.

The above info-graphic is my proposal for a five-week course on technology in student affairs. The course syllabus was prepared for a master’s level course (although the content is relevant for all graduate students and current professionals). This semester’s technology and/or social media assignment for our campus ecology class challenged my cohort to move outside of their comfort zone and try something new. Student affairs professionals need to constantly improve skills and comfort level with technology to effectively serve students.

One challenge for designing a course on technology is choosing the topics. Technology in higher education is a very broad topic and can cover many different skills or tools. It was difficult to choose the five topics and decide relevant readings for each week. I used personal communication (including emails and Twitter) as well as blog posts and journal articles to determine the course content.

Technology in higher education, a history: graduate programs, IT history, student affairs historical connection with technology

Technology and today’s student: student technology use, digital identity development, student development theory

Student affairs and communications/marketing: professional online presence, social media platforms, blogs, websites

Technology fluency: technophobia and a review of tools such as hardware, software, learning management systems, content management systems, student information systems, recruitment platforms, payment processing systems, online learning, assessment tools, etc.

Technology in administration: ethics, legal issues, confidentiality, and future of profession.

Although there are two New Directions for Student Services texts on technology and student affairs, I did not assign a book to accompany this course. I am not sure how a traditional book option would support a course on technology in student affairs. The tools and resources change rapidly, therefore it needs to be an electronic resource , or maybe a traditional book and companion blog.

To continue the process of life-long learning in relation to technology: Follow and read blog posts from the six leaders on the info-graphic; they are individuals that graduate students and administrators can learn from while trying to increase their comfort and skills with technology and social media.

I hope that a course similar to this proposal will be offered to future graduate students at UGA. What would you change or add to this course on technology in student affairs? Post in the comments or connect with me on Twitter and let’s continue the conversation!

References for this post:
EAC595C: Technology in student affairs (Leslie Dare)
ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology
Do we need a technology in student affairs book (Eric Stoller)
Student affairs graduate programs and technology (Eric Stoller)
Student affairs technology: To boldly go (Eric Stoller)
A course on technology in student affairs (Joe Sabado)
Leslie Dare Google Site

What is so great about Twitter?

I still meet a lot of people that do not use Twitter or do not understand why I like Twitter so much. Friends or colleagues that take a chance on Twitter either try it and love it or try it and do not understand why others find it so useful.

Twitter gets categorized with Facebook, Instagram, and other sites as a social networking sites. But social networking is not the most prominent feature of Twitter. Twitter is an information network (that allows for social interaction). It is important to accurately explain the site when recruiting new users. If you prefer the social aspects of Facebook (like my professor, Dr. Dean) you will quickly learn that Twitter is a very different type of site.

Why did Twitter catch on from the start for me? I predict it is because I joined Twitter in April  2009 and followed a large number of accounts tweeting about NC State. I can not remember why I decided to join Twitter but I’m sure it had something to do with the NC State community. For example, my first tweet:

If you decide to join Twitter, the most important thing you can do is find and follow accounts tweeting about your interests. “You don’t have to tweet to get value from Twitter” – Twitter states this directly on their about page and that is completely true. Sign up for a Twitter account to gain information even if you are not interested in tweeting.

Learner is my number one theme on the StrengthsQuest assessment.  I love learning; I like to be knowledgable about everything going on (which is good and bad at times) and I like that I’ve created a network for learning on Twitter. I hope this post will encourage you to try out Twitter and follow a community that interests you. Now that I’m in graduate school, I still follow NC State accounts but also student affairs and higher ed accounts. I also follow people and organizations that tweet about running. Another way to find your community on Twitter is to follow and search specific hashtags, such as #sachat

At first I did not know if this post was a relevant blog topic (Twitter was created in 2006), but I decided to write it because I still know people hesitant (or scared) to try Twitter. Let’s get connected – @ChandElaine on Twitter