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We’re a month into school and everyone has pretty much figured out their way around campus, and where their classes are. For some of you, this is your first month in a university class. Others are returning to class as students or professors. All of you are probably encountering the question of laptops, phones, bathroom breaks.
Laptops and phones, are they education’s friend or foe? Most professors have a noted stance on the devices. Those who don’t allow laptops and cell phone usage in class reason that they are distracting to not only the individual actually using them, but also to those around the digital distractions, and therefore diminish the by-students focus on the class itself. Professor Gillies acknowledges the increasing reality of laptops as part of class.
“Students tend to no longer take hand-written notes and they would rather use a word processing program, as a professor is speaking, to remember things from class… We’ve got infinite access to infinite information available at our fingertips, we may as well have it in the classroom.”
That being the case it is important to remember that you’re probably not the only person in the room who can see your screen. I find it best to imagine that my mom or dad, or any other person who wouldn’t want to see me squirrel away my education on idle social-networking, is standing right behind me and my laptop during class. That way, those who are really behind you are less likely to be distracted by your screen. If you’re a student, and class is your job, use your laptop, as the incredible educational tool it can be, rather than as a distraction, so that those around you can enjoy class in their preferred manner as well.
As for the more run-of-the-mill classroom etiquette such as bathroom breaks, students and professors would do well to remember how uncomfortable it was to hold it the last time you really had to go and also how jarring the clang of a chair can be when you’re mid thought. At this point, most students are in class because they want to learn. If they didn’t want to be in class they wouldn’t be, and no one should feel uneasy about going to class because they might not be able to leave to use the washroom. Bathroom axiom: exit class to use the washroom when you need to, and be quiet about it, I think that’s a standard that everyone can agree on.
The beeps and flashing lights of cell phones and smart phones might not be very distracting to a generation of students who grew up with them, but they can certainly cause a distraction now and then that we could all live without. It’s also considerate here to think of our professors. Cell phones might not distract them as a spectator of an event, but may be more problematic to them when they are the ones giving a lecture. Professors might also feel uncomfortable that their students would rather check their phones than listen to them talk about a subject they are presumably passionate about, and that’s not a courteous position to put anyone in.
If students and professors can both be accommodated in the classroom, then the atmosphere will be one of mutual trust and respect. The worrying can stop and make cognitive room for learning and open communication to be the centre of attention.