Digital Devices in Classroom – Hesitations of Teachers‑to‑be


  • Paul Lam
  • Aiden Tong


computers in classroom, distraction


More and more teachers are facing the decision whether they should allow or promote students the use of technology in the classroom. The decision is difficult as there are apparently both advantages and disadvantages in doing either way. In terms of positive impacts, research revealed that the use of digital devices in the classroom setting was capable of facilitating faculty‑student interactions and in‑class participation, which in turn enhanced engagement and active learning (Fitch, 2004; Partee, 1996; Stephens, 2005). On the contrary, evidence was also identified to show a relationship between notebook use and distraction in class. The pilot study investigated the desirability of allowing digital devices in class in our local context, and to explore the factors that influence the success of the practice. Two studies were conducted with students in teacher‑training programmes at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. In the first study, students were allowed to use computers in the lessons (free use) in the whole semester and then they were asked to reflect upon the learning benefits, if any. In the second study, the future teachers were asked to comment openly on the use of digital devices for more guided purposes such as student response system and e‑textbook. Results in general revealed that it is indeed a very controversial and complicated issue. On the one hand, many positive learning benefits relating to using digital devices in class are acknowledged. On the other hand, distraction is a major concern as students may use the technology for irrelevant purposes in class. Participants thus were also very conservative about channeling the use of computers in classroom to other academic contexts. The answer to the question whether computers be allowed in class thus is not a simple yes or no but is a series of suggestions concerning when and how to do it more appropriate.



1 Oct 2012