How “no device” policies can hurt some students

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IMG_4993 by EdTech Stanford School of Medicine CC-BY-NC-ND

There is no shortage of articles in the higher ed zeitgeist about whether or not devices should be allowed in classrooms, often written from the perspective that devices in the classroom are distracting for other students.

This post from UBC's Christina Hendricks is a bit different in that she focuses on the use of devices in the class as assistive technologies for learners with disabilities.

Christina has crowdsourced a great list of ways in which devices are used in the classroom by learners with disabilities, and notes that blanket bans on devices in a classroom requires learners who need the devices to get special accommodation to use their devices. This often singles out learners with disabilities, and forces them to divulge something that they may not wish to divulge about themselves:

They now stand out as the only one in the class (or, if they’re lucky, one of two) who gets to use a device while other students wonder just why they get to use one. I have seen a couple of students on social media say that as soon as they see a “no devices” policy on a syllabus they drop the class because of this concern.

There are many practical and pragmatic examples here of how students use devices in the classroom as assistive devices, which is one of the strongest reasons I know to resist blanket technology bans in classrooms.

Source: "No Devices" Policies and Accessibility by Christina Hendricks, February 17, 2018