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Grade Smarter

7 Ways To Integrate Electronic Devices In Your Class

In last week’s article, we discussed 6 strategies to use electronic devices in a more positive manner. This week, in the last installment of our three part series on ways to approach electronic devices in class, we will discuss how educators can integrate electronic devices in their learning environment.

Here are some recommendations you can integrate electronic devices in your class: 

  • Course Syllabi Policies – In general, clear guidelines can be given on the syllabus as to whether students are permitted to use electronic devices in the class. The instructor should communicate policies on the first day of class, and may need to revisit them as needed during the semester.   
  • “Leave it in the Bag” (every or most classes) – As Straumsheim (2016) suggests, if an instructor does not want their students to use their mobile phones during class, they can verbally indicate this at the beginning of class and demonstrate by holding their cell phone up, turning it off or silencing, and putting it away. The instructor can also give time for students to follow the same actions. Impact on participation or attendance may be considered for policy violations.
  • Put Away Devices (after use in class) – If an instructor permits students to use technology for a particular academic activity, at the conclusion of the lesson, the instructor can explicitly state that it is now time for the students to log off or put devices away, and give time for students to do so. Impact on participation or attendance may be considered for policy violations.
  • Active Learning Exercises  – As an evidence-based strategy, instructors should consider implementing the active engagement of students in class. Students are less likely to access social media, e-mail, etc. on their devices when they are more engaged in class and motivated to participate.  
  • Instructor Walks Around the Classroom – In general, instructors who are physically able can walk around during class. This can be particularly powerful during group or pair work when an instructor is able to discuss topics 1:1 with students and/or pose questions. These interactions can encourage student attentiveness in class while discouraging improper device use.
  • Note Taking – Practices like collaborative note taking on a Google doc or concept mapping in MindMeister can encourage focused use of electronic devices, and instructors can set clear expectations that students take active notes in class. When laptops are not permitted in class, instructors can reiterate to students how research has shown that note taking by hand proves more effective than by laptop computer (Mueller and Oppenheimer, 2014).
  • Accessibility Awareness – Instructors should provide clear spoken and syllabus language welcoming students to share their accessibility concerns, and provide dynamic electronic policies to support students who are print-disabled.

In conclusion, there are many research involving the use of electronic devices in a classroom environment. However, at the end of the day, it is up to the instructor to decide if he/she wants to allow electronic devices in class. If instructors do choose to involve electronic devices in class, the list above are great ways to approach this in their own class environment.


Mark Espinola
CEO + Founder of GradeHub



Straumsheim C. (2016). Leave it in the Bag. Inside Higher Education (link is external).