Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Policies Needed to Curb Digital Distractions

Plenty of studies have shown that digital devices cause distraction in the classroom. However, other reports indicate that while students understand their devices are distracting, they don’t want them banned.

That led Joshua Kim, director of digital learning initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning at Dartmouth College, to propose three principles of digital usage in his blog for Inside Higher Education. His proposals are aimed at finding ways to effectively use the technology distraction.

To start, Kim suggested that instructors determine and enforce classroom technology policies.

“The authority of the educator in the classroom must be understood and agreed upon by all parties,” he wrote. “This does not mean that the educator can abuse that authority, as that will be the quickest way to break trust with the learners. Being able to direct the students about when technology is used—even if the answer is that technology is never used—is necessary and appropriate.”

Use of student devices must also be intentional. Technology allows students to create things in real-time and is much closer to the way students will use technology in the workforce.

“Use class time to have students or groups do research, create quick presentations, and lead classroom discussions,” Kim wrote. “An amazing amount of actual work can be accomplished during class time—especially if the professor can walk around and coach.”

Finally, class time should be devoted to discussion to help students understand why the policies are in place and to think about the way they use their devices in their lives.

“Your students will be much more likely to accept (if not embrace) you classroom technology choice if you talk about the reasons behind those choices,” he wrote.

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