Monday, September 05, 2011

Students Cannot Stop Texting

So, fed up with the problems I had in an unusually big class last year (though I've gone back to medium-sized (i.e. 40 student) classes this year, I've (a) banned laptops and tablets, and (b) instituted a policy according to which you get kicked out of class for texting.Today was the FOURTH CLASS OF THE SEMESTER, and I saw a girl texting under the table. I asked her what she was doing, and she fumbled around, picked up her pen, and sat there as if she were then read to take notes. "Uh, no," sez me, "what were you just doing?" Her eyes get very wide, and she reaches down and picks up her phone, which she has thrown on the floor. She holds it up. I say "uh, no. Out." I jerk my thumb over my shoulder and stand there while she fumbles around getting her things together and walks out.

WTF?????  I do not not force students to come to class. I make it clear that they never, ever have to attend. But if they do, they have to pay attention. I made it clear the first day that texting was a kick-out-able offense. About 30 minutes shy of a week since I made that policy clear, the incident described above happened. Again I ask: WTF?

An it's not like the class was boring or moving slowly. We were actually moving along at a brisk clip, the stuff was hard, and the vast majority of the students were clearly suffering from some brain pain.

Jebus. Very annoying.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gotta say, cracking down on texting in a class of 40 borders on wankery. Also, no laptops is a pain--I wouldn't use anything else for taking notes in this day and age.


3:11 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, re: laptops, you're absolutely right. But, as always, it's profs + serious students vs. dumbasses. If you allow laptops in class, then, no matter what you do, an extremely large percentage of the laptop-using students will be playing games, surfing, etc....and this is distracting not only to the professor, but to other students. A colleague of mine was sitting in on some law school classes, and sitting in the back of a large class. His assessment: if a student is using a laptop, he IS doing something other than taking notes about half the time. So, yet again, something beneficial has been ruined by assholes.

As for texting: no. There you're just wrong. If you taught, you'd understand. It's *extremely* distracting and irritating to see students texting while you are lecturing. Since I do not insist that students come to class, it's eminently reasonable to insist that, if they do, they forgo texting for fifty whole minutes!!11 I don't like being an authoritarian, but the rules are reasonable and clearly articulated. Nope, not even close to wankery.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Oh and incidentally: my normal route with such things is to calmly and patiently explain to the student, in front of the class, why doing whatever stupid thing they happen to be doing is distracting, and why it wastes everybody's time if they do it. I don't yell, I'm not mean, I just explain it to them as if they were reasonable adults. This has worked with all sorts of things for years...but it does not work with laptops and texting.

6:31 AM  
Blogger tehr0x0r said...

I am with you on this one. I just started law school after a 5 year break after undergrad and I must say the use of laptops in class drives me nuts. I see people all around me doing anything and everything but taking notes. Then the flop side is the people who just type down what the professor is saying word for word so there is a constant clicking of keys. Not a fan. As for the text messages, if fifty min without a text is going to kill you then you might want to rethink any job other than bum on mom and dads couch.

4:15 PM  

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