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November 06, 2014



I finally gave up on requesting stapled hardcopies and allow digital copies. I got sick of losing students' papers because they weren't stapled.


Good idea but grading in digital format is too time-consuming for me.


You can get cellphone jammers which would effectively stop them from texting or surfing in class. I'm not sure of the legalities of doing that though. In case of an emergency they could just ask the staff for help I suppose. They say children are the future; I shudder to think what kind of future it'll be.


I can relate with many/most/all of those to varying degrees, perhaps more so because I teach high school. One good thing is that teacher authority holds more weight, so I can just take away cellphones (which I often do) and students certainly aren't allowed to surf during class. That said, many students are very savvy, and international students like to say "I need it for translation," even though I know that's about 10% of what they use their cellphones for.

The hardest thing is trying to get kids to actually read what is assigned. My students are very honest, so when I ask who read the assignment, it is usually 20-30% that raise their hand. Plus they have access to Spark Notes online, so even those who (allegedly) "read" it, often just read the spark notes.

I'm currently teaching an Ancient History course and we're reading Gilgamesh. I'm no even bothering having them read it for homework and instead we're just reading it in class. This is only do-able because it is so short.

I honestly think the days of lecture-as-primary in education are numbered, that we are (and should) move towards more experiential approaches. I try to limit my lectures to 30 minutes, with the rest being activities of some kind or another. There's a reason most TED talks are 20 minutes or less; even adults start drifting about about 20-30 minutes.


I would sometimes use my smartphone to load a copy of whatever book my philosophy teacher was talking about at the time, but it was clear that even that use made him a bit wary. Kind of a shame, it's a very powerful device, to have the whole internet there on your desk, you'd think there'd be a lot of applications for it..

Bill Bush

The use of digital machines and media presents opportunities and challenges. The "engagement" experience of class is damaged by students who wander off into digital inquiry during what should be a session of communication, questioning, responding, proposing, counter-proposing, oral comparisons, development of antithetical concepts and trying them out against the assigned material, etc. If they have to get out of their seats, collaborate on making a chart or ranking items or ordering items, they can't be using their phones because there are no answers to such activities on their phones. Or very few. If they have a 10 page reading, they should have it done. If not, they should have trouble and realize that there is a way to avoid trouble. I used to let kids use their reading notes and study guides during tests sometimes. It helped the workers and left the rest stranded, as intended. Give them a chart to fill out on an old-fashioned transparency that will be put on the overhead, and have them explain the responses to the class. Give them a statement about the reading and ask them to make a list of reasons it does/doesn't work as the central idea of some part or all of the work. That is not on their phones. BTW, you can print out the papers yourself and staple them in just a few minutes while having a coffee to get some steam up for grading. It may seem like you're doing their work, but it is mind over matter: if you don't mind, it don't matter!


Digital copies would make it possible to check for plagiarized material.


We use turnitin.com and it works fairly well.

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