3.1.18 Empty Classroom

Classrooms in Prescott Hall sit empty on Thursday, March 1, 2018.

Welcome to the 21st century. To most people, this statement is nothing new and is about 19 years late. However, the University seems to need this reminder based on the technology policies currently in place.

The 21st century is meant to be the golden age for technology, but the University still allows professors to ban it from the classroom. The debate over the use of technology in the classroom is meaningless and has gone on for too long. It’s time to put an end to it once and for all.

Technology was created to make certain aspects of life easier. When people got tired of darkness, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. When people got tired of spending months traveling, Matthew Murray created the first steam-powered locomotive. Odds are, the professors who ban technology in their classrooms are from an older generation. There is nothing wrong with that, but I hope they remember the University offers great retirement
benefits.

Technology is too phenomenal to be banned from the classroom. Modern day tablets like the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro have revolutionized note taking and organization. Apps like GoodNotes have a wide array of tools to help students write what the teacher is saying and doing. The app Notability takes it a step further and allows students to record lectures. There are some professors who cite copyrights as their reason for banning recording. I hope those professors will one day realize that more students are focused on making a good grade than making a profit. Despite how useful technology is in the classroom, it's still demonized by many college professors.
 
The University's officials need to reconsider why they still allow teachers to ban technology. Some professors say it’s because technology makes it easier to cheat. In case it’s not obvious, students will always find a way to cheat. Like the old saying goes, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” The professors who feel this way need to realize technology goes both ways. Yes, students can use it to cheat, but teachers can also use it to prevent cheating.

If you ask the University, they will cite study after study saying technology is a distraction for students in the classroom. Technology is certainly a distraction for students who are using it to surf the web and check social media. There are also studies that show students who write notes perform better academically than those who type notes. Surprise, University! Tablets like the iPad Pro actually let people physically write down notes.

No matter how you look at it, technology is versatile and is able to work in many different formats. Technology has even changed the way Gloria Thomas, director for the Center of Academic Success at the University, thinks about teaching.

“You should always try find the best tool for the task at hand and sometimes that tool is a digital tool,” Thomas said. “We should have policies that help the masses, but are flexible for the few.”

Thomas’ viewpoint on technology changed when she had two students who made a D and F, respectively, in her class. Those same two students took her class online and made a B. She asked them what changed, and they said the ability to pause her lecture and comprehend what she was saying was the key.

“You should have multiple means of expression so that student can see it in lots of different ways,” Thomas said.

At the end of the day, the University’s policy about technology is not completely bad, but it needs restrictions. If a professor wants to ban technology from his or her classroom, they need to provide a valid reason. Blocking technology just for fun is wrong and cruel. Students are already told what to learn, why should we restrict how they choose to learn?
 
Donald Fountain is a 21-year-old mass communication sophomore from Saint Francisville, Louisiana.

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