Tweaked by technology

A full inbox and plenty of what MK calls “administrivia” have consumed my first week back. One of the pertinent emails was a policy change here at Mizzou. The school approved Executive Order #38, a measure aimed at the “sanctity of classroom discussions.”

Basically, students can record anything from a class, but redistributing it, say, on the Internet is now expressly prohibited. I like the clarification because it does not hinder technology in class and preserves the open forum a classroom should have, not unlike the legislative floor or the Supreme Court chambers.

The broader issue here is tech in the classroom. Some professors are fed up enough to ban phones, tablets and laptops. Most let the steam in their ears slowly build until someone sets them off, around three-quarters of the way through a semester. I’ve been in two tech-focused classes that included instances of the professor saying, “That’s it. Put all your laptops away.”

I can’t bring my laptop to class. Its presence is a death knell to my concentration. Some of my friends swear by them for taking notes. Others want the distraction.

A Poynter article argued that removing tech undermines the principles being taught.

“Digital and social media are critical to the future of journalism. Banning technology in the classroom sends the message that they’re something less than that.

Even though plenty of good examples exist — I’ve used iPads and wikis and blogs as part of class curricula — the struggle between teaching and technology is tangled.

I like the idea of inverting classrooms. Initially, it’s more work for both professor and student, but when it comes to our education system, the time for invention and invigoration is now.

Inverting means that students learn material before class, and the instructor branches off into related material during class. Technology available now makes this type of teaching more accessible than ever.

“Technology in the classroom is not about ‘banning’ or ‘allowing.’ It’s about engaging. This could not be more important for budding journalists to learn.”

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