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Be polite with cellphone usage

Submitted by Ian Bennett on October 18, 2012 – 2:40 pmNo Comment

The ring of a cell phone, or a Facebook or email alert from a smartphone, can certainly break the concentration of the people around us from whatever subject matter is being presented, whether at work, or in a movie, but none revered so much as the atmosphere of the classroom.

One might place more responsibility on the professor to make sure their lessons are stimulating and interactive enough as to prevent students from being left to their own (electronic) devices, while others might say that the classroom cellphone policy is in the students’ course syllabi and should be respected.  Math major Benjamin Rogers said, “If the class is boring, I’m going to have my phone out.”  When one professor was asked about his opinion regarding the issue he said, “If students are not engaged in lectures then it’s the professor’s job to make them interesting.” He would go on to say, after showing his cell phone was concealed in his office desk drawer, that it is “unacceptable” for a professor to have his/her cellphone in the classroom and that it was their job to set the example.  Criminal Justice major Wendelette Johnson would later agree with this concept, saying “If they (teachers) want students not to have phones out and texting while they’re teaching then they should have their phones put away also.”

Emergencies are also a common reason people keep their cell phones close by during class time.  UALR offers the optional campus alert text notifications, along with several other emergency communication services, including the outdoor emergency alert siren/PA system, which could combat that issue.  Dr. Joe Williams of the writing department says that he does not carry his phone to class and added, “If there’s an emergency, someone will come and get me.”  He also acknowledges that students sometimes use their smartphones as a supplement to writing.

The opinion of cell phone use by students and teachers in the classroom seems to be widely accepted as more an issue of respect to others’ needs of learning than an annoyance.  Almost all of us, whether you’re a college professor or a student, have made the occasional mistake of not silencing our cell phones before the start of class.  It is also safe to say that some professors handle the disturbance differently; some may ignore the noise, expecting the student to realize their mistake and turn off their phone, others may give a stern look to the student, and some may use humor to lighten the awkwardness the student might feel about the simple error, while those more rigid about their classroom phone policy might create an example by asking the student to leave class for the day.

Most teachers have a cell phone policy in the course syllabus that is the student’s responsibility to know for the semester.  The syllabus may contain statements like “please silence and put away your cellphones at the beginning of class each day”, where others may ask that all electronic devices be turned off and put away, unless otherwise given permission to use for academic purposes.


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