Skip to main content

The Student and the iPhone

Nearly every student has one of these things, and it's impossible to imagine a time without them. (Trust me—there really was a day when you couldn't instantly send Tweets to your friends, look at pictures of kittens, play games, or browse for porn 24/7.)

Smart phones cause student trouble in three ways:

The phone is not a computer

Well OK—literally it is. The modern smart phone can do things that the full desktop computer of fifteen years ago only dreamed of, but that's not what I mean.

It's a poor tool for typing a paper. The screen is smaller than your hand, so you cannot see a whole page of typing, and writing a paper with that tiny on-screen keyboard will make you crazy when you do a five-page paper. It's OK for Tweets, but those are only 280 characters.

They cannot do Blackboard. Most of our course is on the Blackboard LMS, and yes, there is a way to see Blackboard on a phone, but learning how to do it and fighting the machine is a major challenge. Best advice: Don't try to use the phone. Get something with a bigger screen.

Blackboard is supposed to be easy and slick. If you can't make Blackboard work on your phone, it's because you are using the wrong tool.

The phone keeps you from learning things

Again—perhaps literally not true. If you need to Google a fact and you are in the middle of a forest, you can learn something, but one of the main functions of smart phones is that they cause students to fail courses.

Every teacher has a couple of students who cannot stop texting. The students think we don't notice (but who else would get that fascinated with something happening down near their navel?) and they are totally dropped out of the course.

These are the students who get a "D" if they are lucky. Many are not so lucky.

The phone takes you away from real life

We all know about people who are so busy texting while they are driving that they kill people. And every year some texting student steps into traffic on Claremont Avenue and gets nailed by a car.

But what about the rest of the texters?

I spent much of my free time this summer on bike trails, enjoying trees, flowers, sunshine, forests, streams, and small animals.

Every so often I pass someone who is walking the same trail, face buried in a smartphone, enjoying … Tweets.

It's a very sad life.


Popular posts from this blog

How to Take Our Hybrid Course

  English 100 will be a bit like Harry Potter's hippogriff—neither horse nor eagle. It's neither a 100% distance education course nor 100% face-to-face, so we will need some special strategies to make it go. What you will see when you open Blackboard On the left of the Blackboard screen, you will see folders, one for each week. When you open a folder, you will see: A link which takes you to the assignment schedule for the week (really just a section of the syllabus) A link to a "Face-to-Face" video of me introducing the week One or more links to a narrated PowerPoint lesson on how to write a paper Links to web pages for the week A drop box for the week's writing A grammar quiz What you won't see on Blackboard Specific reading assignments in America Now or Writer's Reference (You will have to open the assignment schedule link or look at your printed syllabus for those.) The

The Basic Set-up of Our Course

This Fall, English 100 will be a hybrid course. This means that about 1/3 of our instruction time will be on campus in a classroom and 2/3 will be online. We are doing this to minimize the risks of transmitting the Covid-19 virus, while still giving you the advantage of a college campus course. Dividing the class into groups During the last week before class, you will receive an email telling you which group (cohort) you are in. Each cohort will have five or six students. The class meets in Dauch, where the classrooms have a normal capacity of 20-25 students, so you should have no trouble maintaining social distancing. Each cohort is assigned a day (Monday, Wednesday, or Friday) for your on‑campus session. Your class schedule should give you the room number and time. Attendance at these sessions is required. Important Note #1: These are assigned days! I don't want the entire crowd from one day drifting in on another day because you forgot or overslept. The idea is to ke

A friendly note about reading responses

First, yes they are required. One of the key strategies for getting good grades in any class is to submit every assignment, large or small, on time. Second, the questions for our reading responses are quite specific. If you didn't bother to read the article (or the question) and just grab one or two major words from the assignment and run, you aren't likely to get a very good grade. The prompt for this Friday is: Does Niman understand and accept the journalists' confusion about and reaction to what happened to the Columbus statue? How do you know? To do this one, you will need to know: What happened to the statue? What was the journalists' confusion and reaction? What evidence do you see that Niman "got it" (or didn't)? A generic discussion of the value of statues in public places isn't going to answer this question.