About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Paying attention

George Siemans wrote about the use of laptops in the classroom and the resistance that many faculty had towards this. He implied that the resistance comes from boring faculty that are threatened by a new way of learning. However, I have a much more fundamental issue with my students not paying attention in class.

I allow my students to take notes using a laptop (or blackberry, or any other devise such as a recorder) in my class. What I resent are those students that use that time to write papers for other classes or do homework. I purposely do not have an attendance policy in my class because I don't want students there unless they want to be. However, if they do not come to class or participate, they will not receive class participation grades (10-20% of their final grade). So many "show up" thinking that this is sufficient to pass the class. I do not address the fact that I know they are not doing work for my class, but simply do not give them credit for coming to class that day. So I do find it disrespectful that they do work for another class while in my class (especially since they elect to come to my class). I also find it disrespectful that they underrate my intelligence in knowing they are doing work for another class in my class (after I have put time into preparing class to help them learn). But most of all, I can't stand when students ask me to repeat things over and over that, had they been paying attention, they would have gotten.

While George discusses new ways of learning and how the teacher needs to adapt to it, students also need to adapt new skills if they are going to use a laptop in class that will not distract others learning. For example, if you are typing and not paying attention to what the teacher is saying, do not expect the teacher to repeat what they have said (many laptops have a recording tool). In addition, students should look up from time to time to receive (and give) feedback to the instructor. Just as is it rude to never look up from taking handwritten notes, the same is true in using the laptop. Finally, there is a time and a place for laptops. Sometimes the use of a laptop (i.e. when a discussion is expected) just is not appropriate.

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