Another View on Technology in the Classroom

Written by: Emilia Marcyk

Primary Source: Information Literacy Resources

The following article came up in my Facebook feed recently (you’ll see why that’s ironic if you read the article): “Why I Just Asked My Students to Put Their Laptops Away” by Clay Shirky. Shirky draws on research to justify his recent decision to ask students to be device-free (including laptops) during class, unless explicitly asked. I was especially intrigued by the idea that distracting technology use during class affects not only the retention of the student using the technology, but those around him or her as well. This “second-hand smoke” effect was a large part of the reason Shirky finally decided to ban technology all together. Not that he blames students for being distracted; he asserts that social media is designed precisely to attract our attention on an almost biological level.

However, I wonder about this policy’s applicability to the kind of instruction we do in the library. Unlike Shirky, who has the luxury of building relationships with his students over the course of the semester, we often have less than two hours to develop rapport with students and hopefully make a good enough impression that they will be willing to return to the library on their own. Would the goodwill lost enforcing a technology ban outweigh the potential benefits of increased focus from students? Shirky’s piece will no doubt spark strong feelings from people on both sides of the issue.

Lovingly written by Emilia Marcyk
The following two tabs change content below.
Emilia Marcyk
Emilia Marcyk is an Instructional Technology & Information Literacy Librarian at the MSU Libraries, where she develops instructional content, leads information literacy sessions for the First Year Writing program, and works at the reference desk. She is especially interested in developing new tools and strategies to help undergraduate students acquire information literacy skills, especially as they transition from high school to college. She received her MSLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her BA from Bryn Mawr College. In addition to her work in libraries, Emilia has been an environmental educator in Portland, OR, and Philadelphia, PA.