T Nation

Cell Phones in Class


I'm teaching an undergrad class, and wondering what you all think my cell phone/technology policy should be. Should I be a hard ass and say no electronic devices in class? Or let them do what they want (of course no actual talking on the phone)?


None whatsoever, under any circumstances.


No one pays attention to/cares about the electronics policy, just a heads up.

People will look at their cell-phones if they want, and if you ban it they will just be sneakier.

The best thing you can do for this is make the lecture interesting, imo.


My college human kinetics teacher doesn't care as long as you're not bothering other people with it. He says it's now part of life having phones and what not.

But I look at it this way. If I was teaching and a kid was on his phone and missed important information then asked what I said, I wouldn't repeat myself. His choice not to listen etc.


you kidding me?

No fucking cell phones bro

If you are even thinking about allowing cell phone use in your classroom the kids are going to walk all over you.


It's undergrad, not high school.

Yeah the students are going to no matter what, I'd tell them cell phones are not allowed and to turn them off or put them on silent during lecture, not because I'd think they would, but then they would understand they have to be sneaky about it, i.e. not disrupt anyone else. And if their phone actually rings/goes off, I'd point it out in a humorous way to embarrass them a bit.

EDIT: Actually this depends a lot on the size and type of class. What I wrote is more for bigger lecture style, if it's a smaller tutorial-type thing I'd be much more strict.


Kind of what I'm leaning towards. They seem to be a distraction to the whole class.


If they were HS kids it would be simple. It goes off I take it away. Some undergrad students are older than me and treating them like children is not the dynamic I want to establish. It's not ok with me if they text in class. If you're here to learn, be here or leave. But then they are adults and are paying to be here so as long as it doesn't impede others learning is it a big deal?


Let them have their phones. Its no longer pre-school and if they want to jerk around on their phones during class, its their prerogative.

Asking them to turn their ringers off is reasonable, but trying to enforce regulations for the sake of having rules is silly. Undergrads are distracted by nature, and phones are really not the issue.


I wouldn't have rules for the sake of having rules.

Technology can be very distracting. It's just that when the person next to you is texting and dicking around it's hard to concentrate. I've been in plenty of classes where I wished the guys behind me would just be quiet.

Also, when the 'kids' are distracted it's hard to get a feel for if they are understanding things or not.

Why are you coming to class if you're just playing on FB the whole time?


Because you're in Uni/college so you're expected to go to class, and you might miss an assignment or something. I'm not saying that's good but really, lots of kids are not going to be paying attention, you can't totally fix that.

As said above, the best way to get them to pay attention is to have engaging lessons.

Pretty much all my profs throughout university just basically said it will be expected that your cell phone will be off and your laptops will only be used for course related things, not facebook, and then they just let it be. Most students will respect this, some will not, but hopefully they'll keep it to themselves. If not, sure, call them out.


What kind of class is it? Mostly freshman or older? If the kids are straight out of high school then maybe, but otherwise it seems kind of pointless. I can't even remember the last time one of my classes had an electronic policy.


What some of my teachers did was put their lecture notes online and send emails about any updates, assignment information, etc., so going to lecture was completely optional, all the information was available on the class webpage. One teacher had the in-class assignments count for ten percent of your grade, but if you didn't show up regularly, would simply weight your final for the difference.

With or without that, a good chunk of students still came to class. They were the ones who wanted to learn directly from the professor, ask questions, etc., so technology wasn't really an issue with them- if they wanted to fuck around they just wouldn't come to class. The kids that didn't want to be there just didn't show up, but if they wanted the grade they'd have to study and learn the material on their own time, which I think is fair.

The teacher's that try to be strictest about this generally have the most problems when it does come up. Students instantly assume the teacher is uptight, and when, sometimes, a phone accidentally goes off they'll get quiet and look around, making the class a lot more awkward and tense than it has to be.

If you don't want to put your entire class online, but don't want your students just fucking around in class either, say there's a no technology policy, but don't stop the entire class to chew out every student you catch. The more the students like you, the more likely they are to want to listen and respect your rules. Obviously no noise- no talking, no ringers, etc., but let it slide otherwise. Poke fun at a student and embarrass them if it does become a problem, but then move on like nothing happened. This keeps the class at ease, while at the same time, they'll want to avoid the humiliation.

If a student does it more than twice, or twice in a session, then I think it's fair to tell them that if they want to fuck around they can leave the class, but move on afterwards, staring a student down just makes it a lot more tense for everyone else.

You could, alternatively, dock points every time you catch a student fucking around (only do this is if they're distracting another student- a kid who's clearly being quiet and disturbing nobody doesn't need to take the hit, it's their own problem and they're ultimately fucking themselves without your interference). This is a much stricter approach and it might not go well with the students, but if you can keep the class interesting otherwise, they might respect that stance.

You have no obligation to answer the questions of a student who missed information because they weren't paying attention.


Something like this...


Do like my finance teacher. If caught you are asked to leave the class. It's happened once and it hasn't happened again.

I personally think using a cell phone and packing up before the class is over/teacher is finished talking are the two rudest things students do on a daily basis. Good on you for putting up with their bs man.



No teacher that I've had in college has even mentioned a 'cell phone policy.' I've never observed it to be an issue.

Well, maybe it is briefly mentioned in the syllabus or something. Like no cell phones out, some teachers may say they don't want laptops open. If you feel like that's appropriate, go for it - noone is going to dislike you or think you're a hardass for it. Just use common sense in enforcing it.


if you say no cell phones in class... that's kind of joke, sorry. they are gonna do it anyways, kids are sneaky. I'm one of them. Just make sure you make fun of them if their ringer goes off. it should be on vibrate anyways.

but... yeah i'm rarely on my phone in class, but if i get a text message, i'm answering it.


This. plus who the fuck gets distracted by someone in the class texting? If you're lectures are that boring that a person nearby silently using their phone is a distraction, you need a new profession


simply put it this way, if they distract someone else ask them to leave.


What if I accidentally let a fart slip out in class. Am I getting the boot?

The only thing I'm trying to get at, is distractions are everywhere. Somebody might cough, somebody might get up to use the restroom, somebody may be working on an assignment for another class, etc.

Is there going to be a policy for all that stuff.

The fat girl sitting next to me in class is pretty distracting just as much as the hot girl in front of me. Might, as well make a no fat and no hot girl policy too.

The only technology policy I've ever had is no phones during exams. One professor said if he heard a phone go off, he would give you a 0.

Simply put, the students that are there to learn, will not be bothered.

If a could is complaining that the kid next to him is sending text messages, I would tell that kid to shut up and mind his business, as he is more likely bothered by the fact the other kid actually has friends to text, and not by the phone itself.