Dialing up a classroom distraction

Take a seat in any college lecture this week, and this scene of mass distraction will likely play out: Somewhere in the room, a student will open a laptop and begin clicking the keys in rhythm while the professor lectures. Another student a few seats away will be following along with the textbook downloaded on an iPad.

Educators wonder when the rules are going to catch up with student technology.

And at some point the cellphone sitting on a tabletop will vibrate, sending a buzz through the air before the user silently hides the phone under the table and begins to text.

Classroom electronics use is as expected as freshmen seeking a house party on the semester’s first weekend. But it’s cell phone use, particularly use of smartphones, that educators are still grappling with, even as technology becomes one of the top components of students’ lives.

“It’s a case of the rules catching up with the technology,” said Ben Clansy, a College of Saint Rose political science professor.

For the most part, high schools have blanket cellphone use policies: use is OK in the halls or cafeteria but banned in the classroom.

College has a different set of rules — or lack thereof — that now deals less with passing notes in class and more with texting, tweeting and scrolling during lectures.

Clansy has a cellphone policy that allows use in emergencies, but if the phone dings, rings or makes any noise other than the buzz of vibration mode there will most likely be some words exchanged after class.

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