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Seniors in Robert Kerr’s Mass Communication Law class received iPad Minis for the spring semester. Professor Robert Kerr created online, multimedia course materials and administered the course through iTunes U. Photo by Celia Perkins.

face time with each other so that class isn’t just sitting in a room, listening to a lecture.” ​Of course, the effectiveness of these methods depends on students’ ability to resist the siren call of social media during class hours. In large classrooms, it is not uncommon for students to angle their iPads away from the eyes of their professor and start playing Angry Birds. ​A little under a third of students find it distracting when those around them access sites like Facebook and Twitter during class, according to a survey conducted by Kerr. “The kids who bring their iPads to class are a lot more distracted,” says Carmen Forman, a journalism junior and Gaylord Ambassador. “They aren’t listening during class because they’re on Facebook or Twitter. ... The girl who sits next to me is always texting her boyfriend in class.” Only 31 percent of students believe that the iPad has helped increase their productivity, according to a survey of one of two sections of Kerr’s Mass Communication Law class. On the other hand, a robust 77 percent of students reported using their iPads to access Facebook during class. Kerr recognizes the issue of distraction caused by use of social media in class, but knows that banning electronics altogether would be unenforceable. Kerr also doesn’t want to police his class so closely that the policing itself becomes a distraction. Rather, Kerr aims to hit Facebook junkies where it hurts. “The people who say, ‘Oh, I just don’t know what to study!’ are the ones who are multitasking in class,” Kerr said. “If you’re going to choose to use your iPad for that, you’re going to suffer the consequences in your grades.” Journalism Area Head Professor Peter Gade, who has been a vociferous critic of the effect of new media on journalism, also questions the effectiveness of policing to curb Facebook distraction.

“I’m not going to be a policeman all the time,” Gade said. “This isn’t a police state, it’s an educational institution. ... The bigger trouble is that using media anytime, anyplace has become so ingrained in our culture that young people just believe that there’s no sense of right or wrong about it. To tell them that they can’t use it is almost an invitation to them to break the rule. “This kind of technology is a double-edged sword. It tends to hurt the students who already aren’t very strong students. ... The best students you seldom have problems with.” Not all of Kerr’s students think of the iPad just as a portal to Facebook. Michael Runyan, journalism senior, is among the 31 percent who believe their iPad Minis have helped them learn. Runyan has balanced his writing-intensive 16-hour schedule and done copious online readings with the help of his new iPad. Its portability and ability to conveniently store online content >>Continued on page 55

WEB CONTENT Download a copy of Professor David Tarpenning’s Advertising Copy and Layout ibook at http://gaylord3. JMC3353.ibooks


Pulse 2013  
Pulse 2013  

Alumni magazine of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.