For one, finding an article against the use of classroom technology in our 21st century was difficult, but surprisingly, one professor has put a ban on its use. Professor Clay Shirky of New York University recently published a piece on medium.com titled, “Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away.”
According to Shirky, allowing students to utilize technology in his classroom has grown worse with time. He states the following in his piece:
The level of distraction in my classes seemed to grow, even though it was the same professor and largely the same set of topics, taught to a group of students selected using roughly the same criteria every year. The change seemed to correlate more with the rising ubiquity and utility of the devices themselves, rather than any change in me, the students, or the rest of the classroom encounter.
While technology in the classroom has definitely acquired some concerns, distraction is a two-sided argument. According to a survey study conducted by Associate Professor Barney McCoy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
More than 80 percent of students surveyed said that their use of digital devices can interfere with their learning, but fewer than five percent said it was a big or very big distraction when they or their classmates used them.
With these findings, whether or not technologies should be banned from the classroom because of their “distractive” qualities is not so black-and-white. McCoy cites studies, which found that the 14-23 age group had the highest rate of laptop adoption in the United States at 84%, the second highest rate of smartphone adoption at 70%, and the second highest rate of tablet adoption at 43% and nearly 100% of college graduate and undergraduate students had Internet access.
Technology is literally an essential part of this generation. Simply banning its use in the classroom is not beneficial to any extent. Instead, colleges and universities need to embrace its role and re-design lesson plans to incorporate its use. Yes, studies support that attending to multiple streams of information (via smartphone, laptop, etc.) can lead to bad media multitasking. We, however, are suggesting that professors actively utilize technology in their teachings to minimize the need for students to seek their media (e.g., using Twitter to engage in class discussion). If 55% of McCoy’s sample is using digital devices to fight boredom, then Shirky’s “it’s not me” argument is simply wrong. So, instead of banning, let’s give this century’s students what they want and need.