Students have a tough time leaving their cell phones alone while they should be focused on instruction and class discussion.
No worries! Two enterprising undergraduates at California State University at Chico have created an application that rewards students for digitally locking their phones during class. Local companies are being solicited to offer coupons and professors are talking extra credit.
Rob Richardson, a junior computer science major, got the idea (Yay, Rob!) for the iPhone app, called Pocket Points, by "looking around his classes and seeing what he considered to be far too many students with their heads down, paying attention to their phones rather than to the lesson taking place in front of them," according to an article in the Wired Campus feature of the Chronicle of Higher Education by Casey Fabris.
From the piece:
Here’s how it works: Students acquire points—based on the length of time the phone is locked and how many people around them are also using the app—that can then be redeemed for discounts at local businesses. The app is location-based and works only on the campus. The app is being extended to other campuses as well, including a few community colleges and high schools.
Professors have been some of the app’s biggest supporters, Mr. Richardson says. Some have even expressed interest in offering rewards to their students, like extra credit or attendance points, through the app, though Mr. Richardson says such features are not currently being explored.
One needs an advanced sense of the ridiculous to appreciate this. Maybe the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation could set up a fund to reward students—big-time—for locking up their phones. Sign me up, Dudes!
Besides, if you've been to the movies lately, perhaps you have noticed similar apps that reward participating audience members with credit toward tickets and popcorn (not to mention Milk Duds and Junior Mints). Except for the diabetic coma part, what's not to like?
On the other hand—sniff, ahem—as any faculty member can tell you, personal sacrifice and discipline are important components of student success—perhaps more crucial than intellect, if we are honest about it. (But this sounds like a wheezy exhortation from Downtown Geezertown. Never mind. Popcorn!)
Socrates did not encounter such moral dilemmas—but hey, look what happened to him. Dude needed an app.