Cellphones, Laptops and Higher Ed. Photography

Laptops in the classroom seem so visually appealing.  It seems to express some magical bond between technology and learn.  But the more I see of that, the more bothersome it has become to me when I’m photographing student life on a campus. As I work a classroom I notice more students tending their Facebook pages than taking notes.  An article in Slate Magazine’s Big Money takes a look at this.  The conclusions are interesting.

Class change is a natural for photographing campus life.  Now however, it seems to be a requirement that cell phones come out as soon as students exit their classes.  It has become increasingly more difficult to capture those momentary connections that the class change offer.

One school that has taken on the cell phone issue is Sewanee: University of the South.  Students there have taken it upon themselves to put limits on using cell phones while walking across campus. Students politely remind them of their offense by saying “YSR” (Yea Sewanee’s Right).  As a result, students remain engaged with each other between classes.

One thought on “Cellphones, Laptops and Higher Ed. Photography

  1. As a 2005 Alum of Sewanee I could not agree more. Sewanee is a community oriented school with a tradition referred to as the “Passing Hello”, the idea that you make an effort to reach out to your fellow classmates and professors in order to strengthen the community bond. This tradition has directly conflicted with the rise of cell phones on campus. It is amazing to see students continue to embrace the “Passing Hello” and remind the incoming freshmen that it is better to greet your neighbors in person instead of isolating yourself. The Sewanee community is something that is now lost on most campuses; an ideology that serves to increase the student-to-student and student-to-professor bond. This in turn creates a stronger classroom atmosphere in which students are professors are free to discuss within and outside the classroom. As technology, with its myriad benefits, continues to have the somewhat adverse effect of isolating us from each other, I hope your article reverberates within higher academia and administrators realize that without personal connections true discussion based learning cannot take place.

    Yeah Sewanee’s Right!

    Jonathan Hall
    Sewanee C’05

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