Last year Harvard Crimson writer Hemi H. Gandhi claimed that students checking Facebook in class is so commonplace that the school’s professors don’t care—and besides, if the classes weren't such boring lectures, students would be more inclined to pay attention. Well, Gandhi and his fellow texting, tweeting, status-updating peers better be glad they’re not enrolled in business professor Henry Kim’s classes at York University in Canada. Kim boots social media-using students out of class and he catches them by asking their classmates to snitch on them.
Kim—who regularly incorporates technology into his classes—requires his students to pledge not to use their laptops for anything that’s not class related. But the nonstop web surfing continued so this fall he asked students to also pledge to snitch on their peers by reporting what they see on adjacent computer screens.
He told the Toronto Star that there's "not an ounce of scientific evidence that students can actually multi-task and learn." His pledge, says Kim, is "not meant to be punitive—it's almost like a thought experiment, and the whole point is to create a new social norm in my class where using the laptop in distracting ways is embarrassing not just for you, but for other students who may be asked to report on you."
On the one hand, it's pretty awkward to ask students to tattle on their classmates. On the other, given that a global study last year found that college students are overwhelmingly addicted to media, even if Kim and other professors danced on their heads, some students would still be busy clicking "like" on somebody's Facebook update.
What do you think? Is Kim's drastic approach worth the uncomfortable tattletale atmosphere it might create?
College students sitting in a classroom photo via Shutterstock