College students are switching their paper and pen for keyboards and styluses, and while many faculty members think it is a progressive idea, they also recognize that it can be a distraction in class.
According to a recent survey by Course Smart, 97 percent of college students own a laptop, 57 percent own a smartphone and 22 percent own a tablet. The survey’s results also showed that 88 percent of students use a mobile device to send emails, 85 percent use one to research study topics and 83 percent use one to write a paper.
Lakeland Christian School is requiring all of their students to purchase iPads to use in class. Christina Sale, mother of a sixth-grade student at Lakeland Christian, complained about paying the price of the iPad for a young student like her son.
“I’m just glad he hasn’t broken it yet. We paid extra for the insurance in case something happens because that’s risky for young kids like him,” Sale said.
On Florida Southern’s campus, some students are concerned about the price tag of iPads but they also have other reasons why they choose not to buy iPads for class. Senior Auburn Cherry has no interest in using an iPad in class.
“I just stick to my laptop because it’s easier and what I’m used to,” Cherry said.
Junior Elizabeth Collier has considered a tablet but decided against it. She likes that textbooks are generally cheaper in eBook versions but “most people already have either a laptop or an iPhone so to me it seems redundant to have another item to do exactly what those things already do, unless you do a lot of work on the go and need something smaller.”
Some students are opting for cheaper versions of the iPad. A comparable tablet can cost up to several hundred dollars less than an iPad costs at Best Buy.
Junior Melissa Collier has a Kindle Fire and uses it for class daily.
“I really like having it in class because I can put all my textbooks on it and I don’t have to lug my huge bio and chem textbooks around campus,” Collier said. “I also love downloading all my PowerPoints onto it for class, and I can take notes directly on the slides.”
Political Science Professor Bruce Anderson leaves technology in the classroom up to his students’ discretion.
“I think there are massive advantages to having them [iPads/Tablets] used in class, and I don’t really regulate them,” Anderson said. “If the class can’t hold their attention, or if they don’t see the advantages of joining the discussion, then they usually pay a pretty big price anyway.”
Parent Pam Glover has a similar mind-set to Anderson. She bought an iPad as a Christmas gift for her daughter last year.
“As long as she isn’t texting or on Facebook during class, I think it’s okay. I know she [Glover’s daughter] really loves the convenience of her iPad. She says it keeps her more organized,” Glover said.
Religion Professor Keith Ewing is looking forward to the future of technology and it’s influence on communication and learning. He acknowledges the distracting availability of texting during classes.
“Is that any different than daydreaming in pre-wireless years?” Ewing said.
Although professors are aware that social media is easily accessible on iPads and tablets, many of Florida Southern’s faculty members agree that, when used responsibly, iPads and tablets are useful tools in the classroom.