The Plugged in Paradox

Living in a world that is constantly changing and adapting around me, how can I not try my best to keep up with the times, and that means continually refreshing twitter to make sure Sarah Palin hasn’t done anything I need to know about, the Pope hasn’t said some inspiring, or the relative location of the S&P 500 all while ‘paying attention’ to my differential equations class.  We live in a crazy time!  How can you expect anyone to remain seated with so much technology transfer and information flowing into their front pockets, backpacks, glasses and wrist watches!?  This is crazy!  I’ll hear about it from a faculty member every now and again when someone write their entire dissertation without even uttering the word library or card catalog.  

I don’t have an issue with how plugged in we are, but I do have an issue with when we choose to embrace the technology.  Need to write a research paper?  Research using google scholar, call experts using Webex, begin a draft with your colleagues from London on Dropbox, and make the presentation available to everyone through a blog or academic website.  Yet, as soon as you step into my classroom if you even THINK about touching your phone, you are doomed and I will call you to the board to make an example out of you (full disclosure, I don’t do this, but at least one of my professors does/has).  Why can’t I use the device/devices I am attached to all day to interact with the global classroom while I’m sitting in a physical classroom?  If we, as instructors could encourage proper and beneficial usage of laptops and cell phones during class perhaps outside of class more collaboration would happen.

I do agree that we are all to quick to pickup our phone at the dinner table whenever we get a sports center alert, and that is a total different discussion, but I feel it is time for us to use these incredible tools as tools and stop speaking of them as taboo.



  1. Ken Black · November 3, 2015


    So I do agree that there is a time and place for everything. Your nifty phone, not at the dinner table. Getting in contact with a resource for your work: fantastic.
    Even more, I think it is more about the perceived amount of respect that goes into a classroom. Often professors don’t enjoy perceiving a room as though the students are not paying attention. Taking the technology out of the classroom is a reflection of the relationship the professor has with the students. If the professor does not trust students to use technology as a tool instead of a distraction, then it is going to be interpreted as being disrespectful and removed.
    I believe it boils down to trusting your students to use devices appropriately, and if not then that will hurt their individual learning if they choose to be distracted. The benefits outweigh the potential negatives.


  2. EdwinG · November 4, 2015

    I agree with you that it is good to be connected in the class and that it is a potential to increase collaboration. As you, I believe the problem is people don’t use it for class related things; they are looking at Twitter, Facebook, responding to emails and other stuff. I think this is when it starts affecting their learning and potential benefits of the technology in the class. There is only a certain amount of things you can do at the same time… Very good post!


  3. A. Nelson · November 4, 2015

    I really like how you acknowledge and appreciate how gloriously essential networked scholarship has become, which puts a completely different spin on our complaints about how and why our students (and ourselves) are distracted by “technology.” Thanks for this!


  4. Dez-Ann Sutherland · November 13, 2015

    collaboration in the classroom is always beneficial. Professors need to be able to establish trust with students but this can be harder than one would expect. It is hard to keep focused in class when we are so used to interacting in the virtual world with our many devices. Using technology in the classroom to enhanced the course material is always the aim. I like your blog post.

    Good Job!


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