As the new semester began at Iowa State today, I sat through two classes and two separate discussions of class expectations.
It was the second class, Jl MC 342: Visual Principles for Mass Communicators, that surprised and delighted me. The instructor, Dr. Jacob Groshek has taken notice of the increased usage of laptops and smartphones. Unlike the majority of professors that ban these technologies, Groshek’s policy is “If you feel you can not pay attention for 50 minutes and must do things like text your friends, update your facebook status, or read the newspaper during class, I kindly ask that you do these activities discreetly and in a way that does not distract me or your classmates from our course material.”
While this isn’t an endorsement of using technology during class, not restricting it is an important first step. While I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always use my BlackBerry for constructive purposes during class, it’s nice to know that I’m not risking repercussion. Especially if I am actually looking up something for class or adding test dates and assignments to my calendar.
Groshek even informed the class that he setup a Twitter hashtag (#jlmc342) for the class. It’s important for a communications class to explore all forms of communication.
Hopefully other professors will take note and take it one step further and utlize social media to connect with their students. How helpful would it be to get tweets with test studying tips the night before an exam?