I teach American government at my local university. Of course, every student has a smart phone. And every student is looking at that smart phone, all the time — including during class. I try to keep my lectures peppy, but there is no competing with a palm-sized universe of entertainment.
Several times, I have stopped teaching and walked right up to a student engrossed in an online video. Especially if he is wearing headphones (!), it takes several awkward seconds before he notices me.
Last quarter, I decided to make my class “device-free”: No visible phones, laptops, or headphones. I made this announcement the very first day, posted it on the door, and highlighted it in the syllabus. I figured students could drop the class if they had a problem with it.
Perhaps they didn’t think I was serious. The first couple classes, I had to call students out and ask them to please put their devices away. One student cursed out loud, and another student actually flipped me the bird.
But I don’t care. Below are eight reasons I’ve made it my new mission to free students from the shackles of their screens.