Gadgets Can Distract Students
Teachers use projectors, computers and DVD players as learning tools. But students have leisure gadgets, including cell phones, video games and MP3 players.
"There are times in a class where it would be appropriate for students to listen to an iPod," added Kohl. "Sometimes, if kids are on a computer doing some research, they might be listening to music."
However, classes requiring students' full attention mean no electronics, although most scientific calculators now support video games and many college students who use laptop computers in classes find themselves fighting high-tech temptation.
"Then you want to see what's on their screen," admitted University of Missouri student Rob Goldfarb. "You know, you have to look."
And their teachers are looking, too.
"I'd see these little things flying across the screen and I'd think, 'That doesn't look like lecture notes to me,'" said Cynthia Frisby, MU advertising professor.
So, Frisby doesn't allow laptops in her classes and she said student response has been positive, such as those who prefer traditional note-taking.
"I think you absorb a lot more by doing it by hand," explained Goldfarb.
Psychologist Nelson Cowen agreed.
"There is a kind of learning, called procedural learning, that does not depend much on full attention," he said. "However, most other types of learning require full attention at both the time of learning and the time of recall, or performance does suffer."
Some schools have banned personal electronics while others let students bring video games to school as a reward for good performance. A few schools have times when students can use games and electronics. Rock Bridge High lets teachers decide for their classes.
Schools usually include rules for electronics in their handbooks.