Profs use student smart phones to their advantage


David McDonald, director of emerging technologies and an associate professor in the Atlanta-based university’s business school, has invited the use of text messaging during class while many educators are instituting strict rules against the practice.

The texting program—similar to handheld student response systems—was  used in about 15 Georgia State business courses last school year.

“Rather than trying to fight [texting], let’s use it,” McDonald said, adding that that text system has a “very strict” filtering feature that censors obscenities. “If they’re going to be doing it anyway, have them pay attention to what their teacher is saying, not what Ashton Kutcher is Twittering.”

Eric Mazur, a physics professor at Harvard University, and two of his colleagues have developed student response software that supports many types of questions, so instructors aren’t limited to multiple-choice queries. For instance, responses to open-ended questions can be analyzed by creating a word cloud, and the system also supports numerical or ranking questions, as well as those involving diagrams.