An Iowa professor lets students decide whether personal technology should be used in his classroom.

Professor David Gooblar has taken a radical stance on technology use in his college classroom. Allowing his students to collaborate to draw up, discuss, and set their own class rules regarding personal technology use during class time, he engages his students in that wider, very relevant discussion from the get-go. Students are able to weigh the pros and cons of using laptops or smartphones, such as ease of notetaking versus distractions from learning and the ever-pervasive temptation to cheat. In a 2013 study from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, college students cited social networking, boredom, and entertainment as the main non-class related uses of their technology during class, resulting in “[not paying] attention,” “miss[ed] instruction,” and “distract[ing] others.” Luckily, Gooblar’s innovative process of implementing rules as a class further would seem to appeal to students’ consciences, reminding them of their responsibilities as students to themselves as well as to their fellow classmates, in a way that would be nearly absent if the professor just set rules without their input. Perhaps more professors should consider a similar approach in their own modern classroom environments.

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