I know I am making a point not to blog about particular happenings in my classes, but here’s something I wanted to throw out there for thoughts and commentary.
My lower-division class meets in a computer lab. We have software to lock up the screens when the computers aren’t needed, to prevent off-task surfing. Today I didn’t lock the computers out because we needed a calculator and a graphing tool. About halfway through the class I was in front of one student and s/he started to smirk a little while looking at his/her screen. On a hunch, I checked the Facebook accounts of that student and a couple more that s/he hangs out with, and sure enough there was this:
…and a couple of others of a similar bent. The time stamp puts it squarely in the middle of the class.
Students from the first day I ever taught anything have thought that my classes were f***ing stupid, and I guess I can only help that so much and I am not surprised that some people feel that way. So although the content is juvenile and disrespectful, that’s not the issue per se.
The issue is that I, as a professor, have a responsibility to help students learn things like responsibility and respect, right along with learning logarithms and linear functions. They need to know that:
– Sending messages in the middle of the class is distracting to people around the senders;
– Sending messages distracts the senders;
– The class average on the test they took recently was really badly low, and most every student in the class needs all the help they can get right now, in particular some of the people who sent the messages;
– It’s understandable to have negative feelings toward a class and professor when you’re doing poorly, but not very mature to act out on it like this; and very importantly,
– Facebook pages are not private. Professors, potential employers, etc. are reading this stuff. How smart is it to post stuff like this for the whole world to see?
I’m torn on how to handle this.
- I could send an email to the whole class, saying that (1) I read those Facebook messages, (2) I don’t appreciate it, and (3) the misuse of computers during class time has to stop immediately;
- I could send an email just to the students involved, saying the same things as above and including screenshots of the messages (with names and photos blurred out as above);
- I could start off class on Monday with a Keynote presentation featuring the anonymized screenshots, which would provide a nice, shocking dose of reality to the students involved;
- I could call the students in to the office first, with no prior description of what I want to talk about, and then show them the non-anonymized screenshots, and then have a little chat;
- I could send the screenshots in an email to them;
- I could also send the screenshots to their advisors and coaches and ask them to help me impress on them the importance of respect and responsibility.
I could do a combination of those things, but first of all I’m just wise enough to know not to take a course of action like these before cooling down a little, and second of all I think it would be interesting to hear your thoughts. So, to the comment section with you!