Technology in the classroom: a blessing or curse?


| 7 Comments

Technology can be considered one of the best things in people's lives. But, it can also be one of the biggest distractions in someone's life. I found a blog talking about how college students are "digitally distracted in class."

Barney McCoy, a Nebraska- Lincoln associate professor, decided to conduct a study on how many students turn their attention to their phones instead of their professors. McCoy was a professor and saw first hand how many students were distracted by technology in front of them. McCoy gathered 777 students from six universities in five states to survey them on how distracted technology was to them and by others using it in class. Gathering students from different universities meant that the study would not just reflect one school. It would be giving more proof that technology is effecting students at numerous universities, not just one.

The results of students using their phones were:

"1 to 3 times per day: 35 percent

4 to 10 times per day: 27 percent

11 to 30 times per day: 16 percent

More than 30 times per day: 15 percent

Never: less than 8 percent."

The rest of McCoy's study results were not shocking to me. Students did not think that cell phone usage is a distraction during class. Less than 5% said it was a "big distraction" during class. 91% of the students opposed to banning technology in the classrooms. From my first hand experiences looking around the classrooms, more than half my classmates have their hands on their phones or on their desks. I can tell this is an issue because the other day in one of my class's three girls in front of me had their computers out and were online shopping... Working hard or hardly working? I am going to say hardly working.

It is a shame that something that should be so helpful to all of us can be something that is causing major distractions and problems. It is even more of a shame that students cannot control themselves and put their cell phones down to pay attention for a short amount of time. Most of my professors let us have our phones out because we use them to look up facts, or like in science, answer surveys. But on the other hand, people get distracted and take for granted technology.

In another study, it was found that "students can't concentrate on homework for more than two minutes without distraction themselves by using social media." Technology is addicting and we consume our lives in it. When we are in class and have technology in front of us, I believe, it is too tempting. Why is it so addicting? How can something so good be causing something bad (distractions)?

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So what do you think: does technology help us or distract us in the classroom?

7 Comments

One thing that really stuck out to me about this article was that only 5 percent of students found cell phones distracting in class. Personally, when a teacher in high school would ask me that question I too was say they do not distract me, simply to keep my phone privileges. In all honestly, I feel that having my phone in class is a huge distraction, therefor I wonder how many of those students were being honest when they said that. I wonder what specifically about the phone is distracting. Maybe because it's a way to escape from the teacher, or maybe because we start texting our friends? The link below states that communication is such a natural thing, and when we have the ability to communicate, it's almost impossible to turn it down. Maybe thats a big contribution to being distracted. The article is written through a principles point of view which made it interesting!

http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-give-mixed-signals-cell-phone-use-108509

I also think the statistics in your blog were a bit surprising. I agree with you, technology is quite the distraction. What makes it the worst, at least for me, is that most of my school work is done on my laptop where I also watch movies, t.v., use social networks, listen to music, play typing games, take selfies, Skype friends, etc.
Doing school work on a laptop is like trying to sit still on a jungle gym, it's almost impossible! Laptops in class are even worse. Last week a girl next to me in math class was making an ice-cream cake on the dairy queen website. Needless to say I was distracted. However, I'm sure there were still a fair share of distractions in the days of less technology.

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2011/05/18/how-distracting-is-technology/

This article says over 50% of people waste at least an hour at work everyday due to digital distractions.

I believe that cell phones are a huge distraction in class. For me personally, I try to put my cell phone away during class because otherwise I can't stop myself from checking my phone for messages or tweets. This is a huge distraction to my learning and also extremely disrespectful towards my professors. Even teachers can agree that it's a huge distraction for students, which I believe is the best way to see how big of a distraction it is. http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/upfront/debate/index.asp?article=d1211

I've noticed how this has become such an increasing problem in many of my classes. Including our science class, there a number of students who are constantly texting, playing Candy Crush, or are on Twitter during a lecture. Many professors try the 'no technology' rule, which could be effective only if the course requires that students only need books, notebooks, and lecture materials. Many classes however require phones and laptops as you said. I feel that if professors actually wish to stop students from using cell phones and other technology during class they need to implement a rule. Many professors, however, do not care and believe that the student is only impacting themselves by distracting themselves during class. Many people argue that because professors use technology in their classes, it is okay for students to use it as well. Coincidentally, this assumption is false. According to these charts, with the exception of 'course management systems', approximately 80% of professors do not use technology in/for the class.

I think there is way too much technology in classrooms most of the time. I work and study better when I have to write things down and when I do take my laptop to class I can never completely pay attention to what is going on because I have to check Facebook and Twitter which is terrible. I think our lives have become consumed by social media and we are controlled by it most of the time. There is a statistic that I heard recently that every 6 minutes we have a compulsion to check our phone for texts or any notifications which is ridiculous because half of our day is controlled by a little rectangular object that we believe will make our day better. When students have laptops or other technology in class they can't pay attention because they have the desire to check social media as well so when they creep on Facebook we get distracted by them and creep along with them. I definitely agree with Andrew on no laptops in class because it does take away from lecture when someone is looking at pictures from last night, there's a time and place for technology and a classroom is not it.

Technology is definitely taking over classrooms. I couldn't believe it when I read that students said that they didn’t see cell phones as a huge distraction. Personally I know my cell phone and my computer are HUGE distractions during class. It makes me wonder if these surveys were conducted anonymously or not. I think these kids saying that their phones were not a distraction may have been afraid to say that they actually were a distraction out of the fear of the possibility of not being able to have their phones in class anymore or something like that. Maybe if the study had been done completely blind the numbers would have come back differently and a bit more realistically.

While I agree that cell phones are not a huge issue, but nonetheless a distraction, I also feel that in a way I am less distracted by having my phone. When I am unable to check my phone, I find myself wondering if there is an important message or email that I should be reading. When I can simply look and see that the text is not important, I can put my phone away without reading or responding to the text, and by spending 10 seconds on my phone, I am then able to pay attention the rest of the time in class without thinking about what could possibly be going wrong. This article talks about some of the pros of cell phone usage in the classroom.

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