Instructors should allow student use of technology

Take a walk down any street and you will be able to spot at least one person who is texting on his phone, talking on his phone or just holding his phone. It’s 2013, and technology surrounds us all the time, shaping how we live our day-to-day lives.

For many of us, it’s hard to go a day, or maybe even an hour, without checking our phones or going on our laptops to watch the most recent YouTube videos and check up on Facebook.

With that, technology has also changed education over the years. Especially in college classes, where we use our laptops to take notes and use quick Google searches to try to decipher what our professors are talking about.

Many classes require swift note-taking, and it’s hard to do that when the professor is talking quickly and trying to cram as much as possible into a 50-80 minute class. That’s why many students opt to use their laptops.

Our University caters to the fact that technology is changing the way we learn and the resources that we use to educate us. Simply by having WiFi, like UIUCnet or IllinoisNet, available all over campus, the University is encouraging the use of technology in education.

It’s also visible in the fancy projectors hanging from the ceilings of classrooms that professors use to pull up lecture slides for their classes. Not to mention the numerous computer labs across campus that are used as classrooms so that students have access to the Internet during class.

So, with all this technology around us and in use, it’s difficult to understand why some professors do not allow students to use technology in classrooms.

Most of us have probably been in a class at some point where the professors ban the use of laptops or cell phones in class. The reason many of them give for eliminating the use of technology in the classroom is the fear that students will be going on Facebook or Twitter rather than paying attention. They fear that technology will distract students, yet it’s technology that is the preferred teaching medium in classrooms.

We do go on Facebook, and we do check to see who has tweeted at us while we’re in class. But we also use our computers to take notes quickly so we don’t miss anything. Not to mention, it’s just a waste of time to wait for everyone to take handwritten notes, and it’s equally annoying to have to have the professor constantly repeat the material because students didn’t catch what was said the first time.

It’s simply hypocritical to ask students to put their technology away because it disturbs the learning process. Students get assigned homework online through websites like Compass 2g all the time.

If using technology really does disturb the learning process, then why are we getting homework that is supposed to be done through such a bothersome and distracting medium?

If students choose to use their cell phone in class or go on Facebook in class, it is their fault if they end up doing poorly in the class.

There are many things that could disturb the learning process even if technology is banned: another student sneezing, people shuffling around pages of their notebook or even someone tapping their pen on their desk.

Professors shouldn’t be playing safety patrol with technology.

It’s a paradox: Revolve our classrooms, courses and teaching styles around technology, but inhibit students from using their own technology to individualize their learning experiences.