Smart Classrooms Being Abandoned For Smarter Students: Should Profs Ban Technology in Class?


By Jenny Ortiz

Most of your students don’t know who Chuck Norris is. Many of them don’t watch as much television as you think. The only reading they do is if it is assigned to them and that is done haphazardly. The news is not only filtered by the media but by their friend who happens to be a political science major. As much as technology is growing and has become a necessity, it has also caused our students to become more narrow minded opting to keep themselves focused on two things that are conveniently found on their phone: texting and Facebook.

Recently I’ve been to a few seminars where ePortfolios, as well as online sources are cited as tools that will help students become more interested in their academics. At LaGuardia Community College, computers can be requested for every student to use during class time. At St. John’s laptops are given to each incoming freshman and the maintenance is taken care of by the university. At Adelphi, not only are computer labs available but there are computers in designated places, so students can check email before going into the cafeteria or into their next class.

Like many of my fellow adjuncts, I use the computer and the projector to show students various examples that I find online. For both my Adelphi and LaGuardia students, I schedule time in the computer labs, so they can get their 8-10 page papers done. Furthermore, I encourage all types of primary sources: books, online sources, television,  movies, music etc.

With all the technology that is provided and encouraged, it seems that students aren’t taken full advantage of it.Plainly, they aren’t impressed by my technological advances.  Every time I turn on the computer and I think I can wow them with my internet savvy, many barely look up as they are busy typing lol and lmfao to their friends in the next room. As much as I tell them to put the phones away, they always bring them back out. At LaGuardia and St. John’s University students fight for the seat next to the outlet in order to charge their phones. What’s worse, if they can’t find the outlet by their seats they drape the phone on other students’ desks.

On more than one occasion I’ve had a student not do the homework assignment because s/he couldn’t pull up the email on their phone, or worse they skim the file I send to them on a screen the size of their palm.

It’s easy to see why some faculty ban all types of electronic devices from their classrooms. A former philosophy professor of mine was known for being strict when it came to pen, paper and books. It was the only thing we could have in the class. Never once was he interrupted by a reggaeton song indicating an incoming phone call. There was never a moment where he caught a student smiling at  a Facebook status as opposed to the discussion on Plato.

While I learned quite a lot in that class, I saw many of my fellow classmates struggle, not because of the quiet that enveloped the class once the professor started his lecture but because they had no visual examples to ground the lecture with. Without interaction with the material, they were lost in a philosophical maze with only the professor’s examples to help them…which, for many, didn’t help at all.

This class would have been much more accessible with online sources, but if one piece of technology is used, then it grants students the right to indulge in the one piece of technology that needs to be kept outside of classrooms.

I like using television shows to present social commentary to the class, but as soon as I turn off the lights, the smartphone screens begin to illuminate under bowed heads. In the end, I have to cut the examples short, and continue with a lecture.

Every campus I work on is trying to promote the use of technology in classrooms in any way possible, but the reality of it is that our academic driven technology is only being drowned out by text messages: lol…u going 2nite

In the past, I’ve kicked students out for cell phones, and I always make sure to place the topic of no cell phones on my syllabus. However, cell phones are becoming small computers, and soon we’ll have to have class on Facebook and text our lectures: comma splices r not ur friend 2 many ideas on pg q&a hit me up

How do we get students to put down their cell phones and pick up not only books but academically stimulating technology? How do we help our classrooms stay relevant without being ignored for a Facebook status? Or should we simply ban all technology from the classroom? What are your thoughts?

About the Freeway Flyer: Jenny Ortiz is a quite serious 24 year old New Yorker, except when unicorns (specifically chubby unicorns) are involved. When she isn’t pleading with Kurt Sutter via Twitter to be her mentor, she is teaching at St. John’s University, Adelphi University, and LaGuardia Community College (see, quite serious). When she isn’t teaching, she’s hanging out with her friends showing off  earth and water bending skills (not serious, but super fun).  When she is alone and it’s raining, she likes to read Haruki Murakami, or listen to the Broken Bells and daydream.  If you want to be a fan, you can read Jenny’s work on,, Jersey Devil Press,, Break Water Review,Stone Highway Review, Eighty Percent Magazine and InkSpill Magazine…or you can follow her on Twitter:


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