Electronics or no electronics, that is the question: Clarifying school policies on electronics in the classroom

Written by: 
Stephany France~Multimedia Journalist

BYU-Hawaii’s President Council clarified its policy regarding electronics in the classroom. In less than a year, BYUH students have received three different sets of instructions regarding laptop use in the classroom.

On Monday, June 11, 2012, an email was written and sent to all BYUH students announcing the new “Portable Computing Device Initiative.” The policy stated, “Starting Fall Semester 2012, all students will be expected to bring a portable computing device to campus. In those circumstances where a student is unable to purchase their own device, laptops will be available to checkout from Media Services in the Joseph F. Smith Library.”

Since then, Media Services has been busy checking laptops in and out each day. Almost 60 laptops are solely designated for student’s personal use, double what the normal amount was before the laptop initiative.

Media Services Supervisor Kaala Lindo said, “Our laptops get updated every two or three years. These are brand new. They just came in. Normally we had about 30 laptops, but we would take them to classrooms. There are certain classes like psychology that request for a whole bunch of laptops. Now we have set ones that go out to classrooms.”

A Student Bulletin email was sent on Friday, March 1, 2013 informing students that several of the university policies had been reviewed and modified by the President’s Council. The bulletin provided a link to the school’s website where after logging in, students could view the updated policies.

Under the “Electronic Devices in the Classroom Policy,” it stated that electronics were distracting students from being engaged in essential classroom discussions, therefore they were not to be used during class time.

After only six months under the new “Portable Computing Device Initiative,” this new policy raised questions and concerns for BYUH students.

Marie Pais, a senior majoring in biology from Colorado, said, “I think it’s very interesting how this comes about right after they enforce a rule saying laptops are required for students. While I understand it’s about creating an atmosphere where students can concentrate on the course at hand, I don’t think a policy needs to be enforced upon it. Rather, the professor can enforce their take and perspective on the use of technology in the classroom.”

Upon further investigation and questioning as to why the policy had been changed, it was discovered the wrong policy had been uploaded to the university’s website.
The correct policy regarding electronics in the classroom has now been uploaded. It reads, “Generally, students may use electronic devices during class only for note-taking and other purposes expressly approved by the instructor. However, instructors, for pedagogical reasons, may further restrict or prohibit the use of these devices in their classrooms, unless that use is for documented disabilities.”

With the updated policy, Media Services will continue to check out laptops and other electronic equipment to students. “We’re so busy. We have not slowed down. We usually check out about six laptops every hour,” said Lindo. “Students can check out [a laptop] every four hours. They have a whole day to use it, as long as it is renewed. They can take it anywhere on campus, but by the end of the night, it needs to be turned in. We are so busy here at night,” added Lindo.

Reuben Leavitt, a sophomore in business management from Canada who works as a Media Services tech in the library, shared his thoughts regarding the policy: “I think the students should be allowed computers in class. A lot of my friends use Evernote on their computers to take notes during lectures.

“Because we’re all university students and we’re here to learn, I think there should just be an element of responsibility in choosing what we’re going to do during a lecture, rather than saying no laptops in class. I think it’s to their own demise if they choose to be on Facebook instead of listening to the lecture. It’s a waste of their money. If I’m in class buying stuff on Ebay or whatever, I’m just wasting my time. I think it should be up to the students, not forced upon them,” added Leavitt.