Yale students are more plugged in now than ever. Usage of wireless services on Yale’s campus climbedby 15 percent in the last year, according to Yale Information Technology Services.
But while professors may control students’ use of technology in their courses as they see fit, some said the final decision to be responsible and use the service wisely falls to students themselves.
Four of five professors interviewed said they believe it is up to the students to use the Internet wisely in class.Philosophy professor Sun-Joo Shin and ecology professor Thomas Near both described student use of the Internet in class as a “choice,” and said students should take responsibilityfor their level of attention in class.
“We are all adults,” Near said. “If a student is going to not pay attention in class, that’s a choice they make.”
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Near also said he uses the Internet to help students explore resources available on the Web and to stream videos that are relevant to his lecture.
History professor Timothy Snyder opposes this approach.In an Oct. 7 opinion piece in The Christian Science Monitor, Snyder said that “what [students] learn in the class comes only from the class, and has a richness and precision they won’t get online.”
English professor Catherine Nicholson said that the Internet is a “potential source of distraction” in class.
According to the 2010-’11 Yale College Instructor’s Handbook, instructors have the final say on laptop and cell phone usage in their classes — a new stipulation this year. Yale College Dean Mary Miller sent an e-mail to faculty this August reminding them to exercise this right but to be up-front about their policies with students.
“Here the intention is to be perfectly clear that each instructor should make expectations known in written form at the beginning of the term, when students are selecting classes,” Miller wrote in an e-mail to the News last Thursday.
Sydney Shea ’14 said she uses the Internet her during her film studies lectures to look up films the professor mentions to help her better understand the lecture.
Sixstudents interviewed reported that until this fall, they were unable to access the Internet in the Sterling Law Building’s auditorium. Some said the only network covering the auditorium was the Law School network, to which Yale College students do not have access. David Galassi, director of network services for ITS, and Janet Conroy, the Law School’s communications director,said the Law School chose not to extend wireless coverage to the auditorium when wireless Internet was first added to the Sterling Law Building. Conroy said this was because the auditorium is “mostly used by us for large events and lectures.”
ITS installed wireless Internet in the auditorium this summer upon the request of the Law School, and there have been no student complaints so far this semester.
“I hope students will get disciplined into not getting distracted too much,” Shin said. “I think there will be other side effects if we block Internet access.”