Our generation’s guilty pleasure

Stout professor touts technology use in the classroom


Photo by Lauren Kritter

Students gather around a Mac computer in the CJ department’s Mac lab earlier this week.

Story by Lauren Kritter, Staff Writer

Sure, technology is unavoidable. But in the classroom?

One UW-Stout professor isn’t working against the digital wave.

Markie Blumer, professor of human development and family studies at Stout, said technology is an important part of life now. That’s why she created an in-class policy allowing a brief tech break during class.

“There is emerging research that is showing that the solution to helping students stay focused while studying outside of the classroom is to implement technology breaks during their study time,” Blumer said.

Blumer grants a two-minute “tech break” during class which allows students to answer text messages, check emails and putz around on smartphones or other devices, she said.

The break doesn’t interrupt class, Blumer said, because during the break, she’s not teaching.

Cutting technology out completely, “does not help the next generation — or just about anyone who uses digital technologies — learn about realistic and responsible professional technology use,” Blumer said.

But technology use has pitfalls, too, she said.

“Researches have shown that when students take notes on their laptops, or other technologies, rather than by hand, they tend to perform worse on assessments of conceptual knowledge,” Blumer said.

Lori Snyder, UW-Eau Claire geology senior lecturer, said technology not only lowers the attention span of the student using it, but distracts the classmates around them. She said face-to-face communication — uninterrupted by smartphones and computers — is the best way to learn.

Eau Claire student Taylor Ellis said tech use “allows students to have sources right at their fingertips, but also have access to every online distraction that is out there.”