Clay Shirky author and professor of media studies at New York University, recently penned a guest article for the Washington Post sharing why he decided to ban technology in his class. He explains how it was challenging to be more interesting than the devices. The following quote captures some of his thinking:
“The practical effects of my decision to allow technology use in class grew worse over time. The level of distraction in my classes seemed to grow, even though it was the same professor and largely the same set of topics, taught to a group of students selected using roughly the same criteria every year. The change seemed to correlate more with the rising ubiquity and utility of the devices themselves, rather than any change in me, the students, or the rest of the classroom encounter.”
While banning might be a good idea for the “sit, listen, discuss, repeat” style of teaching, for the rest of us, not so much. The disengaged classroom Shirky describes brings to mind the scene from the 1985 comedy “Real Genius” where eventually most every desk had a tape recorder and eventually the professor also gives in and replaces himself with a reel to reel to deliver his lecture.