6.2.2. Electronic Device Appropriate Use Policy

The Oglethorpe academic experience envisions students who have come to class prepared to share ideas, rather than merely receive them. Learning occurs through discussion in which each student listens carefully to the comments of others and seeks the opportunity to add, as appropriate, to what is being said. Participating in such a discussion requires careful attention on the part of the students and instructor. It is to promote such a learning environment that the University requires, as a general policy that electronic devices be turned off during class time. These devices include laptop computers, tablet computers, iPads, cell phones and all other electronic devices.

Oglethorpe University is committed to educationally sound uses of technology in the classroom, to providing a secure learning environment, and to preventing disruption of students’ and instructors’ educational experiences. The University is also committed to balancing the need for concentration in the course environment with concerns about safety and with students’ outside responsibilities. We recognize that, when used properly, hand‐held and wireless technologies can enhance the classroom environment and student learning; used improperly, these same technologies can significantly degrade the quality of learning in the course setting. Each student enrolled in courses in the University has a responsibility to other students and to the instructor to contribute to a courteous, respectful learning environment. This responsibility includes not disrupting instruction or distracting fellow students and maintaining an atmosphere that supports academic integrity, as represented in the Oglethorpe honor code and the code of student conduct.

While it is the general policy that all electronic devices be turned off during class time, the instructor may prohibit any use of hand‐held or wireless technology that he/she/they deems substantially disrupts learning opportunities, degrades the learning environment, or promotes academic dishonesty or illegal activities. Students unsure of whether an activity is appropriate are encouraged to ask their instructors. Students are also encouraged to notify their instructors of disruptive behavior they observe.


Unless otherwise specified by the instructor on the syllabus or communicated via University e-mail, the following statements govern the appropriate use of hand‐held and wireless technologies in courses offered at the University.

  1. Students may not use cell phones, tablet computers, laptop computers or similar communication devices during scheduled course meetings (including class time, laboratories, quizzes, exams, review sessions, individual instruction, or similar activities) in the University. By default such devices must be turned off. Communication by electronic devices, including but not limited to instant messaging, text messaging, web surfing, and telephoning during class, is strictly prohibited unless expressly designated as part of the learning activities. Electronic audio or video recording of the classroom environment is prohibited unless permission is given by the instructor prior to recording.
  2. With the instructor’s explicit permission, electronic devices may be turned on. Even then the devices should have the sound turned off and vibrate mode also turned off. These devices may only be used for note‐taking or other specified course activities with the instructor’s permission. Students using these devices for note‐taking must turn off the wireless function (unless it is required for the note-taking or document viewing application in use) and close all applications/windows other than the appropriate document or application unless the instructor specifically permits otherwise. Students must avoid non-course‐related activities such as checking e-mail or social networking sites, web‐surfing, or playing games because these diminish their—and their classmates’—engagement with instructional activities.
  3. Unauthorized use of electronic communication or wireless devices during quizzes, examinations, or other graded activities will be subject to disciplinary action under the provisions of the honor code. In certain circumstances (exams, laboratories, presentations, etc.), students may be temporarily required to deposit cell phones, laptops, or other electronic devices with the instructor or lab supervisor for the duration of the specific class or activity.
  4. A course instructor, administrator, or staff member may prohibit activities that violate laws and/or University policies, such as those related to intellectual property rights or copyright, eavesdropping, or sexual harassment. (Examples of such activities might include using a camera phone to videotape performances or taking inappropriate photos without the subject’s knowledge or permission.)
  5. Students who require access to hand‐held or wireless technology as assistive measures for documented disabilities may use them according to provisions in the student’s letter of accommodation.
  6. Where personal emergency or family care responsibilities require access to electronic communication devices, arrangements must be made in advance with the instructor. The instructor will decide if such access is appropriate; students may appeal these decisions according to the provisions of 3.9.
  7. Other exceptions to this policy may be granted at the discretion of the instructor.


Sanctions for violation of this policy will be determined by the instructor and may include dismissal from the class, attendance penalties or loss of class participation points, or other penalties that the instructor determines to be appropriate. These sanctions should be explicitly stated on the instructor’s syllabus.

Providing Notice to Students

Instructors should anticipate that issues with wireless communications and electronic devices may arise and publish any policies and restrictions in their course syllabi. Otherwise, a statement such as “Electronic Device Appropriate Use Policy is in effect for this class,” with a link to the text of the policy, should appear on syllabi for all courses offered at the University. If the instructor plans to use sanctions for disruptions, he/she/they should publish details about the sanctions in the course syllabus.


Due to the dynamic nature of technology, any changes or additions to this policy will be published on the University’s web site.