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

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