How Do I Write a Statement on Laptop and Mobile Device Use in My Classroom?

Creating a Statement on Laptop and Mobile Device Use in Your Classroom

The use of laptops and other mobile devices in the face-to-face classroom is a much-debated topic among postsecondary educators. Allowing students to use these devices in class has many potential benefits, but may also prove a source of distraction from course-related activities. In addition, students are increasingly recording or taking images of lectures using their devices. Rather than providing no guidance on how students should use laptops and mobile devices or banning them altogether (which can lead to other classroom issues, including violating student disability policy), we suggest that you include a carefully crafted statement on laptop and mobile device use on your course syllabus. You might also co-create a laptop/mobile device statement with your students, which gives instructors and students and chance to discuss their priorities and concerns around device usage in class. Whichever approach you take, be sure to discuss the rationale behind creating a statement: these devices can enhance student learning, but only if used wisely!

And remember, the most effective way of keeping students on-task with laptops and mobile devices is to integrate them into your lessons. (Note: this link will be live shortly)

What to Consider When Writing a Laptop Policy for Your Class

  • Remember that students use laptops and mobile devices for a variety of beneficial purposes
  • Require students to turn off all sound notifications
  • Considering listing the types of activities for which students are permitted to use their laptop and/or give examples of activities where students might use their devices in a productive way
  • Decide whether or not there are activities in your class for which students absolutely will not need their laptops/mobile devices and, if so, state your position on whether students will be expected to close/put their devices away during those activities
  • Decide whether or not you want to have a laptop-designated zone in the class so that students who feel they may be distracted by other students’ use of laptops/devices have a "free" zone
  • State whether or not students have your permission—or need to request your permission—to record or make images of your lesson material
  • Encourage students to give you feedback throughout the term on how the use of laptops/mobile devices in your classroom is affecting their learning

Example Instructor Statement on Use Of Laptops/Mobile Device In The Classroom

Laptops or mobile devices can support your learning in this class, but they can also be a source of distraction for you and other students around you. Please turn off all sound notifications before you enter the classroom. You are welcome to use your devices for course-related activities such as taking notes, researching lecture topics, collaborating on group projects, viewing documents in OWL, and communicating with other students about the course material. You are not permitted to use these devices for any non-course-related activities. Students who wish to use laptops or mobile devices are asked to sit in the laptop-designated area of the class. During activities that do not require these devices, such as group discussions, you will be asked to close or put them away. Do not take photos of the class PowerPoints; they are available for you to download through OWL. Please ask the instructor if you wish to make an audio recording of class lecture material. If you have concerns or comments about how the use of laptops or mobile devices is affecting your learning during the course, please make an appointment to talk with the instructor.

References and Resources

Centre for Teaching and Learning Literature Review on Laptops in the Classroom (forthcoming)

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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