At the University of West Florida, visiting professor Mark James asks his students to close their laptops and put away their cell phones. Although James is not against technology, he has decided to make his English literature classes gadget-free. “The students seemed more involved in the discussion than when I allowed them to go online,” he told The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Let’s face it, most students who bring their laptops to class to “take notes” really spend most of their time on Facebook. Aside from the distraction, some professors feel that the use of too much technology in classrooms takes away some of the professor-student interaction that is key to learning. Students may feel like they participate more in lectures if the professor is writing the notes as they talk, rather than reading from a PowerPoint slide. Of course, class size, subject and course level all have special considerations when it comes to the technology debate. Some find that new technologies just don’t work in the kinds of classes they teach.
Many professors are also weary of technology fads. “There are still braces on the walls from where they had the last technology that was going to transform education—that was the TVs,” says an associate professor at Central Connecticut. “Just about every semester I almost crack my head open on one of them.” While iPads seem like the ideal education tool today, something else may quickly repose them. Adapting lesson plans to suit new and untested technological platforms seems like an unnecessary hassle. Yet other professors and teachers worry that not keeping up with technology trends will make them seem out of touch. The debate seems to reflect many of the larger arguments about the applications of technology to many areas of everyday life.
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