The Naked Truth Continued

Pauline Newton, a lecturer in English who teaches “Critical Thinking and Argument: An Introduction to College Writing” to first-year students, encourages students to bring their laptops to class and take notes.

“They were born with fingers on the keyboard,” she says. “They are so used to computers, and they’ll be using them in the real world. I don’t fight technology; I embrace it.”

She finds that teaching students to write and communicate well really hasn’t changed much through the years.


In some ways, technology has made it easier, she says. For example, while helping students craft thesis statements, Newton shares the process with the entire group using the real-time collaboration capabilities of Google Docs, a free Web-based application offered by Google.

Students generally monitor their own use of technology in the classroom, she says. “They know that if I see them using their phone or Facebook during class,
I’ll consider that when factoring class participation in their grades.”

Laurie Campbell, director of Undergraduate Programs, Department of Teaching and Learning in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, exposes her students to “as much technology as possible so that when they go into the K-12 environment, they’ll be able to take advantage of all the technical tools available to them.”

Students in all of her classes also keep their computer use in check. In fact, they sign a contract that governs how they can use it and what the ramifications are for breaking the rules.

Boeke, who teaches a media and technology course, believes part of the modern university’s mission is to engage students in the latest technology so they’ll be competitive in the marketplace, he says.

“Even in my classroom, it’s annoying when everyone is on Facebook, looking at email and surfing,” Boeke says. “But those same students are often the first to find some new, useful information online.”
– Patricia Ward

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  1. Avatar
    Bruce Pringle December 22, 2009

    When I started teaching in SMU’s Sociology Department in the 1950s the biggest distraction from new technology was contact lenses. Students not used to wearing the things would find them irritating,take out and accidentally drop them. Having people crawling around under the seats looking for the little things was rather distracting.

    But let a visitor from the past make a suggestion: How about a compromise on technology–some class periods designated to be with electronics and some without?

  2. Avatar
    Wendy Pullinen December 15, 2009

    I agree that technology is changing and younger students are embracing it from day one. However, even in the business world use of laptops, cell phones and PDAs during meetings leads to inefficiencies. It has reached the point where I request people to close their PCs and put away their phones in an effort to reduce churn. Too frequently it occurs where a question is asked of an attendee and that person was texting, emailing or surfing only to need the question and background information repeated once again. This is not only counterproductive, but rude and inconsiderate of other participants. I’m not sure how this will be with the “next generation”, but so far I have not seen much upside to this method of working. There is only so much the human brain can process at once. It’s costing businesses in wasted time and productivity.

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