Do you get frustrated when students text, surf the internet, browse Facebook, and instant message while in class? While I have not had to deal with this in my smaller classes, such behavior seems more common in larger classes where students feel anonymous. And while I work hard to reach each and every student, and these technologies are bittersweet when it comes to that, there is an issue that concerns me even more. Specifically, when students are on these devices for non-class purposes, it is distracting to me. And when I get distracted, I am less able to stay focused and effectively lecture or facilitate discussion--and this impacts the entire class. For this reason, I ask that they do not text, surf the internet, browse Facebook, and instant message, etc, while in class. But occasionally, my words (and engaging teaching methods) are not enough, and some students just can't resist their mobile devices during class.
So, I was intrigued when my colleague shared this video that she uses to talk with her students about cell phones in class. This brief clip (1:28) from Conan O'Brien features Jerry Seinfeld talking about Blackberries and iphones. Seinfeld notes he does not use a Blackberry and in a humorous way, he observes typical behaviors from smartphone users: he talks about how the users' eyes don't seem to focus and they seem distant, how they look back and forth between you and the phone seemingly comparing what you're saying with their blackberry, joking that it might appeal to the user that there are more buttons on the phone than your face, and he notes the "slow head down" motion where users attempt to hide the fact that they are ignoring you. He notes these funny and seemingly universal social interactions, which can be used to show students how easily identifiable their behaviors are. When students see these behaviors, and hear them joked about in a light-hearted way, they might be better able to understand how distracting it can be from a teacher's perspective or someone attempting to interact with them--and how that can impact the class. I am looking forward to trying it out this semester and we'll see if the video helps in my large class. The video could be useful to show during the beginning of a semester or when problems arise during the term.
Thank you to Nihal Celik for recommending this video.