Technology is an integral part of the way students in upper-level education learn. Whether it’s using an iPad to take notes in class, using a laptop to find passages in the reading or even using a phone to record lectures, technology has become an essential part of learning in today’s world.
So why is it that professors feel the need to ban technology in their classrooms?
Every semester, at least one professor feels inclined to include the strict “No Technology Policy” in their class syllabus. This typically means that no laptops, tablets or phones are allowed in their classrooms.
As a political science major, I’ve had professors go so far as to say that if your phone rings during their lecture, they have the right to answer your call during class. Ridiculous, I know!
Putting aside the fact that we live in the 21st century, the only legitimate reason for banning technology in the classroom that students seem to get is that it’s a “distraction to others.”
While I understand the potential harm that using technology during class can have on distracting those around me, I also understand how to conduct myself in a respectful and professional manner when using these devices.
As the ones paying for these classes, shouldn’t students be the ones deciding where they want their priorities to lie, and how they spend their class sessions, so long as they aren’t bothering those around them?
Academically speaking, using technology in the classroom has yielded nothing but positive outcomes for me. Being able to record lectures on some of my longer, more rigorous days has allowed me to keep up with and digest the material I have been taught.
Hitting that record button at the beginning of every lecture gives me peace of mind. I know that I can always look back and listen to topics I didn’t quite understand or ponder questions asked by other students.
Additionally, being able to use my laptop to look up unfamiliar words and confusing topics during class has offered more benefits than waiting until after class, when I have already forgotten the majority of the material.
In more ways than one, technology can create a more engaging academic environment. It gives students an accessible classroom experience as well as the autonomy to interact with course material in a way that suits them best. Banning technology would limit that flexibility and give students a less individualized learning experience.
Students using computers in classroom during lecture. Photo by Kira Thorne.