Profs struggle to quell Facebook distraction

By Katie Valentine, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note8212;This is the first part in a three-part series about Facebook and study habits.

Although Roya Fargam said she doesn’t get on Facebook on a daily basis because it is a distraction, she often browses through photos and checks for status updates during class.

Communication professor Craig Denton and other faculty members are concerned about students multitasking during classes, especially online. Denton said he has no way of knowing what students are doing on their laptops during classes, and even when he hears the constant hammering on keyboards, he can’t prove students aren’t just taking notes. He could stop the hammering sound by using the power on his instructor computer to block out screens in the classroom computer lab, but prefers not to take that approach.

“I would rather counsel and talk about the seductiveness of the Internet,” Denton said.

Fargam, a senior in communication, said she uses Facebook to keep her busy during class. She seldom logs on at home because she knows she will get sucked into the social network, spending more time online than she initially anticipated.

“I think about something and get on,” Fargam said. “I get stuck.”

Large lecture classes are huge Facebook nets8212;all the students with laptops log onto Facebook and spend their time chatting to friends, Fargam said.

“Everyone’s on it,” she said.

Fargam knows of someone who spends their entire day on Facebook, loading pictures, talking to friends and taking quiz

“I don’t talk to people on it or write on walls so I’m not in a rush to get on,” Fargam said.
Fargam originally got Facebook to communicate with people she works with; then her friends from high school started adding her and her friends list grew.

Rebecca Van Maren, a junior in human development and family studies, doesn’t take her computer with her to class so she can avoid the distractions of Facebook.

“I need a break from Facebook,” Van Maren said. “So when class is over, I have something new to look at.”

Keeyon Ebrahimi, an undeclared sophomore, has four classes but only gets on Facebook during one class. It’s an hour and a half midday class, but seems much longer, he said.

“I’m not addicted,” Ebrahimi said. “I love going on and I probably go on every day.”

Ebrahimi doesn’t notice if the other students are on networking at the same time during class8212;he’s too busy listening and “Facebooking” to notice. He doesn’t let himself get distracted, but it does take away some of his focus from class, Ebrahimi said.

Denton spends part of his class teaching about self-representation and how students can use tools such as Facebook to represent them in a positive way. He said it’s a wonderful topic for his classroom because students like to talk about social networking sites.

“It’s important right now,” Denton said.

Once Denton used a software program on the instructor computer to turn off the screens of the students’ computers. The program can only be used in computer labs and can’t affect students using Wi-Fi on their laptops.

“It’s a tool,” Dinton said. “I do consider using it at other times.”

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Editor’s Note8212;This is the first part in a three-part series about Facebook and study habits.

Erik Daenitz

U student and women?s basketball player Halie Sawyer surfs Facebook.com in class Monday. Both teachers and students are concerned about the potential distractions that the Internet poses to academic pursuits, especially in class.