Cell phone/computer use during class
This question tends to come up each semester I teach large undergraduate classes, but is appropriate whenever anyone holds class. After all, physics and its subbranches are technical, and there is a wealth of infomation available on the internet. Why not access this information during class? What if I'm too shy to ask a question in front of 300 other people – and I could answer my own question with a Google search?
This is a good question, and this is not a policy that I created without considerable thought.
The answer to your question comes in several parts:
- First, you (or someone you know) has paid for this course. I developed your course to help you get the most out of it, so at some level, I hope you trust me when I tell you what I think is best for you – even if you don't agree. After all, I know what the answers are...
Secondly, please don't be afraid to ask questions in class! If you have a question, it's almost guaranteed that someone else has the exact same question, but they're afraid to ask. You're doing them a favor -- and if you phrase the question right, you will help everyone (including me!). For example, "Professor Kaye, you really didn't mean to skip that many slides ahead, did you?" Or, better yet, "Professor Kaye, I'm not sure I see how you got from the second step to the third step. Would you please show us how you did that?" Your questions this semester impact how material will be presented in future semesters.
There is a wealth of research available on how technology impacts students (in general) and their performance in class (more specifically); here are links to some of that research that you may find interesting:
- Your response may be, "You bet I paid for it! I should get to do whatever I want to!" While I might agree with you in some very small measure, we will start to really disagree once your actions impact other students (see some of the references listed below).
- You might consider this the academic equivalent to "eating your spinach."
While these references mainly refer to texting and facebook, they are not so limited. The effects of texting are certainly directly comparable to things like SnapChat, Yik Yak, and any other apps that take your attention away from what's going on in class.
Should you have additional questions about this policy, please feel free to come see me during office hours or send me an e-mail.