Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Talking In Class, Taken To New Heights–Or Depths


This cartoon is on the www.savagechickens.com site, and is by Doug Savage–who can help you talk like a pirate.
Even pirate chickens are apparently addicted to text messaging!

Writing a message, reading mail, watching videos, perusing a newspaper, taking and sharing photos, getting news reports, shopping, sharing photos, sending cards: Perfectly OK activities during leisure time. Not appropriate during training, meetings or other business activities. However, those are the latest in rude behavior when people bring cell phones, PDAs, laptop computers and other technology into training sessions and to work.

I love technology and am thrilled to have access to computers and various communication devices. However, I am frustrated and disappointed at the uncivil and unmannerly actions of people who use them in a discourteous way. And, I’m disappointed at how often it is not confronted by instructors, supervisors or co-workers. Technology can be part of training, but when individual students bring their own technological devices to class it is almost never intended to enhance learning–and almost always detracts from it.

*Reading a magazine article on a PDA is no more acceptable than reading the actual magazine in class.
*Looking down at a phone and rapidly text messaging throughout a training session attracts the attention of everyone around the person and is almost as distracting as talking. Playing a game on the phone or a PDA is equally distracting.
*The fact that someone jumps to turn off a phone doesn’t make the noisy ringtone any less disruptive–especially since the ringtone is often musical and creates laughter that can destroy the tone of a discussion. Even vibrating phones can be disruptive when they rattle on a table or buzz from backpacks.  
*Answering a phone out loud, while jumping up and leaving the class or meeting to talk, is obviously disruptive. Answering a phone and talking, while sitting in class or a meeting is rude beyond belief.
*Watching a movie on a portable DVD player at every break takes away from the focus on training for the person doing it, and for those who even casually observe it.
*Taking photos of unsuspecting fellow students or the instructor, and sending them to others is an unsettling action and creates hostility.
*Recording comments made by students during class discussion, then playing them back later as a joke, shuts down participation.
*When an in-service training participant is typing on a laptop computer, in a class that doesn’t require that level of note-taking, the eyes of everyone around him or her focuses on the computer screen. And, the trainer only sees the shiny side of a laptop cover instead of the face of the trainee.

I have started announcing at the beginning of class, and putting it on the front of my workbook, that no electronics are to be out in class. Training coordinators are happy to have me take care of that for them, and most students are glad to have it under control as well. The participants who aren’t happy about it usually adjust. I count on their involvement in class activities–and the quality of my instruction–to get them over the shakes of not having something electronic to play with!

What are your thoughts about this issue? I’d like to hear them, and others would as well.  (When I receive comments about older posts, I ensure those are passed along in an updated article. Or, if you want to just write to me directly without it being shared, let me know that.)

February 11th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 2 comments


  1. As much as I don’t want to believe people could be as rude as you mention, I know they can be.

    We had some people who used their cell phones for business calls, so they could get incoming calls more easily. But they talk twice as loud as they needed to on their cell phones, so after trying to get them to lower their voices, we had to make them stop. There will be something new to frustrate me in a few years I’m sure. Don

    Comment by Don Roberson | February 17, 2008

  2. Oh my! Yes, I can imagine the loud-talking on the cell phone would be a problem. And it all comes down to just being plain rude and uncaring. We’ve done a great job of building people’s self-esteem, now we need to work on building their courtesy and sense of personal responsibility! Thanks for the comment! Tina

    Comment by Tina | February 17, 2008

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