Laptop-closing prof accused of battery

A professor who shut a student’s laptop — allegedly hurting her finger — was arrested for battery last week, reports The Spectator, Valdosta State University‘s student newspaper.

Frank J. Rybicki was teaching a class on Law and the Media, when he told Krista Bowman, 22, to stop surfing web sites unconnected to the class. She argued. He closed the laptop. She went to the police.

Rybicki, out on bail, has been suspended with pay. Students who witnessed the incident were told by campus police officers not to discuss what they saw, reports the Spectator.

In the comments, many students strongly support the professor and accuse the student of being rude and disruptive. One commenter points out the student had “plenty of other options.”

A Don’t be so rude in a classroom.
B If you are going to play on your laptop .. either don’t take the laptop to class, or don’t take yourself to class
C Do what the teacher says for half a second; he / she probably knows more than you do so grow up and take some responsibilities; College isn’t another episode of High School where you can get away with being a distraction; some people here WANT to learn, if you don’t care, .. then get out! Or at least be somewhat polite.
D Don’t take this to such an extreme!!!!

Many professors say they have students who text, tweet, update their Facebook status and let their cell phones ring in class — and then complain the professor didn’t explain the material well enough.

Growing up digital and distracted

Young people today are wired for distraction, concludes a New York Times story.

Vishal Singh, a 17-year-old student at Woodside High in Silicon Valley, gets through only 43 pages of his summer reading because he’s busy surfing Facebook and YouTube and making digital videos.  On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”

Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

Trying to fight wired with wired, Principal David Reilly “has asked teachers to build Web sites to communicate with students, introduced popular classes on using digital tools to record music, secured funding for iPads to teach Mandarin and obtained $3 million in grants for a multimedia center.”

Instead of skaters, jocks and band geeks, students split into texters and gamers, “Facebook addict and YouTube potato,” write the Times.

Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. She texts between classes, at the moment soccer practice ends, while being driven to and from school and, often, while studying.

. . . But this proficiency comes at a cost: she blames multitasking for the three B’s on her recent progress report.

“I’ll be reading a book for homework and I’ll get a text message and pause my reading and put down the book, pick up the phone to reply to the text message, and then 20 minutes later realize, ‘Oh, I forgot to do my homework.’ ”

Shy students escape into the world of video games.

Ramon Ochoa-Lopez, 14, an introvert, plays six hours of video games on weekdays and more on weekends, leaving homework to be done in the bathroom before school.

“Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body,” said Dr. Rich. “But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation.”

Yes, it’s the same Woodside High as in Waiting for Superman.

Parents text kids in class

Who’s texting kids in class? Parents.  SFGate’s Mommy Files reports on a survey of 600 students aged 13 to 17 by textPlus, an app developer.

Some 43 percent of kids say they text in class, and 17 percent say they do it constantly.

. . .  More than half of kids are texting their friends who are sitting in the same classroom. And 66 percent of kids said they receive messages from mom and dad.

Twenty-two percent said they texted answers to friends called on by the teacher.

Let’s assume parents assume their kids will read the texts during breaks between classes.

At Rosh Hashanah services, the rabbi asked us to turn off our cell phone ringers, which is standard, and to refrain from texting, which is new.

Teaching by texting

Teaching by texting is taking hold in classrooms, reports AOL News.

“You’ve got a classroom full of students walking in with a computer in their pocket. Why would you not use it?” said Ron Smith, who has defied district policy for the past five years to allow cell phone use in his high school art and design classes in Hollywood, Calif.

At Chester Middle School, an hour north of New York City, Principal Ernie Jackson, 52, challenged his staff to teach poetry using text messaging. He then gave an old version of a state test to those students who texted in summaries of the poems and to those who learned the poems in a traditional manner.

The result: Those who texted averaged 80 percent on the exam, versus 40 percent for those who didn't.

In another example, a Spanish teacher has students work in pairs to text in answers in Spanish to questions, such as, “What’s your favorite board game?” She projects the anonymous replies; the class checks them for grammar and spelling.

It doesn’t seem like a big step forward, but maybe I’m just an old fogey.


Addicted to media

College students are “addicted to media,” concludes a University of Maryland study, 24 Hours: Unplugged. Asked to go a day without media and then write about the experience, students  described themselves as “in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, crazy.”

“We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were ‘incredibly addicted’ to media,” noted the project director Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland and the director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda which conducted the study.

Without text messaging, phone calling, instant messaging, email and Facebook, students felt they couldn’t connect with friends, even those living near by.

“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” wrote one student. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”

Very few participants regularly read a newspaper, watch TV news, listen to radio news or check  mainstream media news sites online. They pick up news from secondary sources.


Teens prefer texting to talking, study says

Today’s teens would rather text than talk, concludes a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey. From the San Jose Merury News:

Leslie Buentello, 17, was sitting around her house Tuesday evening, more or less doing homework, when a serious case of boredom — compounded by the munchies — set in. So she decided to text her friend Isabel, a classmate at Mount Pleasant High School.

“i bought the marshmallows,” she said, thumbing the keyboard of her cell phone nonchalantly. “hee hee.”

“fersuuuure,” came back the immediate reply. “i m eating my yummy soup.”

“i m eating my chili cheese fries,” Leslie replied. “life is good.”

The survey found that 75 percent of teens own cell phones: 88 percent use their phones to text. One in three texters sends more than 100 text messages a day with girls texting at nearly three times the rate of boys.

The reporter asked Nick Ben, a junior,  if he’d “ever tried to take advantage of his parents’ disdain for texting, asking to stay out late by sending a text he figured they wouldn’t read for hours?”

“Actually, I hadn’t really thought about that,” he said. “But now that you brought it up, it’s a good idea.”

San Jose Unified now lets students carry cell phones but insists that they be turned off in class. That’s hard to enforce as more teens develop the ability to type text messages underneath their desks.

“Not all kids are able to text without looking at their phone,” Nick said sorrowfully, as if he were describing a serious disability. “That’s how some teachers are able to spot texting.”

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I used to read under my desk during class.

Txtrs R litRte

Texting kids don’t lose literacy when they use “abbreviations such as LOL (laughing out loud), plz (please), l8ter (later) and xxx (kisses), reports a new study funded by the British Academy. In fact, “textism” use by 8-12 year olds helps develop reading skills and phonological awareness, reports psychologist Clare Wood.  She added, “Texting also appears to be a valuable form of contact with written English for many children, which enables them to practice reading and spelling on a daily basis.”


Teens just gotta text

Today’s hyper-social teens are compulsive communicators, writes Jeffrey Zaslow in the Wall Street Journal.

A 17-year-old boy, caught sending text messages in class, was recently sent to the vice principal’s office at Millwood High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The vice principal, Steve Gallagher, told the boy he needed to focus on the teacher, not his cellphone. The boy listened politely and nodded, and that’s when Mr. Gallagher noticed the student’s fingers moving on his lap.

He was texting while being reprimanded for texting.

“Educators who try to be enlightened” have persuaded themselves that texters, twitterers and Facebook checkers have “attention scope” which is just as good as having an attention span. They’re multi-tasking. Others say they’re wasting time on trivia.

Vice-Principal Gallagher can’t get students to leave their communication devices at home. “It’s like talking to kids about why they don’t need air.”

Kids today

NYC Educator may be getting old, he suspects, observing his daughter and her Canadian cousins.

The three of them sat on two beds, my daughter with a laptop and the two cousins each with an Ipod touch. They sat in the same room, within visual range and earshot, texting one another. I asked why they couldn't just talk. They looked at me like I was crazy and described how much cooler this was.

A while later, when they sat in another room talking to one another, I asked why they weren't texting instead.

“That's so two hours ago,” replied my nephew.

I laughed, gol’ dern it.

High-tech cheating

One third of teens admitted using a cell phone to cheat during tests in a Common Sense Media poll.  Two thirds said other kids use a cell phone to cheat.  Yet 23 percent say it’s not cheating to use notes stored on a cell phone during  a test; 20 percent think it’s OK to text answers to test questions to their friends.

Seventy-six percent of parents say that cell phone cheating happens at their teens’ schools, but only 3% believe their own teen has ever used a cell phone to cheat.

More than half of teens surveyed admitted using the internet to plagiarize.

Common Sense Medis is releasing a white paper on Digital Literacy and Citizenship in the 21st Century.