University of Rochester
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Policy regarding handheld wireless equipment usage in class

The faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have adopted a general policy regarding the acceptable use of cell phones, pagers, PDA's, iPODs, and all other handheld electronic devices in lectures, recitations, workshop sessions, laboratories, and other course-related activities.   The faculty agree unanimously that ringing phones, glowing screens, and even the operation of such devices are disruptive influences not conducive to learning.   Their indiscriminent usage in class is inconsiderate to students and to the instructor.  Furthermore, sending text messages during a class is a completely inappropriate use of these devices, as it diverts attention away from the educational function.  Below are listed some reasonable rules for acceptable use of handheld electronic gear in the classroom.

Cell phones should never be heard ringing in the classroom.  Out of respect for your fellow students and for the instructor, turn them off before coming to class.

Do not send or read text messages during classes or laboratories.

If, as a result of a family emergency, you are expecting a truly important call during a class, inform the instructor of this fact in advance, set the cell phone to the vibrate mode, and then sit in the back of the room.  If a call does come in, excuse yourself as unobtrusively as possible to take the call.   Bear in mind that taking calls during class must not become routine; it is acceptable only during legitimate emergencies.

With prior instructor approval, lectures can be recorded.  Every effort must be made to avoid distracting others as a result of operating the equipment.

It is advisable for ECE students to understand how the instructors in their classes interpret these rules.

Some links concerning cell phone usage in education:

Classroom etiquette     Univ of New Mexico     News Blog     University of Arizona

Reasons to turn off your cell phone (and avoid other distractions) while studying:

Studies of Multitasking     more from CNN     an APA study     an NAS study

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