This article from Huffington Post outlines the differences in attitude about cellphones and laptops in a classroom setting. Shuter cites a number of examples of instructors and professors who hate the devices in the classroom and use a variety means to get rid of them, from outright bans to one professor who submerged a device in liquid nitrogen and smashed it pieces to get his point across. An extreme example for sure, but no doubt effective.
I think this hatred is rooted in the love/hate relationship we all seem to have with the Internet. We hate the internet when it is spewing bad news, horrific pictures and just things that make us feel just plain bad when we’re rooting around on there. On the flip side, we absolutely love it when it saves us time, makes us smarter by quickly finding something we want to know, and keeps us in contact with family and friends.
It angers people not be paid attention to. The mobile device by it’s very size and nature makes the user seem to think that sneaking a peek is okay, that no one will notice. Everyone notices – especially the person in the front of the room, looking at you, looking at your crotch.
The students, on the other hand, most of whom have had a cellphone since elementary school, have a different take on the situation. They MUST be connected. They believe the ability to look things up immediately and on the fly is beneficial, and are often puzzled by the attitude of the instructors/professors.
As we saw in our own ED366 class, cellphones can make learning fun, if integrated properly. Making the device, that is already in everyone’s hand anyway, part of the lesson might make it less of a distraction. Take away the sneakiness and crotch looking and perhaps you take away a lot of the appeal.
But there does need to be some balance. The question remains how to find it. It is allowing a certain amount of time to look at the phone during class? Integrating the phones a couple of times a week with the lesson? Or do you just let things fall where they may? It will be interesting to see how the next generation of teachers, who have grown up with these devices always on and present will deal with their classrooms.