Georgia State University students who don’t want to yell their questions from the back of a cavernous lecture hall now have another option: They can send text messages to their professor, who reads the queries from an overhead screen.
David McDonald, director of emerging technologies and an associate professor in the Atlanta-based university’s business school, is inviting the use of text messaging during class while many educators are instituting strict rules against the practice.
The texting program—similar to handheld student response systems—is being used in about 15 Georgia State business courses this school year.
Students’ names and phone numbers will not be included in their on-screen questions, but texting queries will raise students’ class participation grades. Each question is screened before it’s posted on the ticker for the class to read.
“Rather than trying to fight [texting], let’s use it,” McDonald said, adding that that text system has a “very strict” filtering feature that censors obscenities. “If they’re going to be doing it anyway, have them pay attention to what their teacher is saying, not what Ashton Kutcher is Twittering.”
Text-messaged questions, McDonald said, are compiled on a class web page—known as a wiki—where other students can answer the questions.
“It creates a knowledge base, and a knowledge base has real power,” he said. “And students love to show how smart they are.”