16 Feb

Qualities in a child update

I did an analysis a few years ago based on 2007 data on desirable qualities in children. The World Values Survey had a similar question, so here are the newer results. For what it is worth, I doubt that the translations are equivalent. So it is quite likely that a word for “thrift” or “obedience” that had a negative connotation was used.

This is the percent of respondents that said, yes that is an important quality in a child.

am2 az2

16 Feb

I hate happiness ;)

Happiness or subjective wellbeing is one of the most difficult things to measure cross-culturally. Every time I see some happiness index I cringe.

Gallup results are floating around the Internet, but here are the more transparent results from the World Values Survey. (Here’s more on WVS in the Caucasus).

Taking that into consideration, I just wanted to point out World Values Survey’s mean results per country for happiness. 1 = very happy and 4 = not at all happy:


And here are the frequencies for my two favorite countries:

am az

08 Feb

Just Imagine… Some more contextualization for the Armenia baby with Down Syndrome case


I see how upset foreigners are about the Baby Leo story. Again, I wish to add some context. As I mentioned in my first post on the topic, I have spent a lot of time in Armenia and the region and I spent most of my pregnancy 6 years ago in Armenia, so I have some intimate knowledge of OBGYN care there.

While my research is broadly about technology and inequality in the region, I also spend a lot of time thinking about and writing about family life. Inequality and family are impossible to separate.

Again, here are some things that may help people contextualize the situation better: My first post covered the disability side of things. This post focuses on family and I am creating a hypothetical situation that is a blend of the experiences of my friends and what I’ve personally witnessed in my 17 years hanging out around here.

Importantly, many, if not most, Armenians live in multigenerational households. I did a quick analysis of the 2013 Caucasus Barometer and there are an average of 4.52 household members and 3.45 adult household members in Armenia (SD 1.93 for total, SD 1.35 for adults). Even in the capital city, there is a mean of 4.20 household members and 3.34 adult household members.


Multigenerational households operate a bit differently from the stereotypical nuclear family. Grandma is sort of “in charge,” non-retired male members work and bring income to the household. Younger female members might work, depending on their skill set and presence of children. Household responsibilities are distributed in a way that may be unfamiliar to Americans. Just imagine what it would be like – both good and bad – to have that many adults under one roof? Personally I am often envious of the great support that this system provides – especially when I’m racing home to pick up my child to drive him to an activity. Oh how I wish that I had more adults around to help distribute the tasks. But let us also imagine that this involves more adults to be concerned about not cleaning their hair out of the drain and other annoyances. And you’re not in a romantic relationship with all these adults, so your ability to work these things out is quite different. And onto status differences…

When a couple weds, how this usually works is that the new bride moves into her husband’s parents house. There are varying norms when there are multiple brothers or if there are no sons, but this is the general rule.

There is a lot of pressure on a new bride to socialize into the family – she may have to do some of the unpleasant chores, for example. And there is pressure to have a child very soon in some families.

Relationships between men and women in Armenia are not like what relationships between men and women are in the United States. While there are certainly exceptions, for the most part, young Armenians do not “date” like Americans do. I’m happy to elaborate on this and I acknowledge that things have changed, but this is just how it is.  And premarital physical relationships are a big no-no. Armenians also marry much younger than Americans do on average. And, by and large, I would argue that most Armenian couples don’t know each other as well before getting married as most American couples do.

Baby Leo’s family story is a bit different because Dad is a foreigner and they were residing with her parents. But I want you to imagine that these are people that are living in a very different household management system from the one that you may be used to.

Baby Leo’s parents are different here because he is a foreigner, but again, imagine that this is the norm that exists in this society.

Fatherhood in Armenia is not like fatherhood in America. In part because of this system of household management and in part because of cultural norms, traditionally, fathers have not been very involved in the day-to-day childrearing. I haven’t seen any data from Armenia, but in the neighboring two countries, very few men had ever changed a diaper, for example. Of course there are exceptions, but again, this is the system in which this story unfolds.

So take this combination of a different style of household management with many more adults with status and the different ways that men and women relate to each other and let that sit in your brain for a bit.

Now, as far as pre-natal care in Armenia – for the most part, most women see a midwife regularly. Yet, as far as I have come to understand, the set of tests given is different. I had to request a number of tests that are standard in the U.S. and just are not in Armenia. Some of those tests may have shown indication of DS. Also it is important to know that in Armenia, like in much of that part of the world, abortion is used as a form of contraception. [link] [link] [link] Because there is less stigma against abortion, it can be assumed that many of those that know of a DS diagnosis would terminate a pregnancy.

I did not give birth in Armenia myself, but as I understand it, the father is usually not present. I cannot comment on the state of the delivery room, but I have heard things that makes me believe that it is not yoga-ball and soothing music-full. Babies don’t sleep in the rooms with the mother. Also, for the record, giving birth can be traumatic and scary and if you haven’t given birth before, it is an entirely new experience. And hormones are all over the place. I had to make some quick decisions immediately after giving birth and I was certainly not capable of doing so with a clear head.

Thus, try to push your own pre-natal and birth experience out of your mind for a bit.

So, let us also let our minds wander a bit. This is all hypothetical – a combination of experiences I’ve seen friends have. We might be assuming, based on our own experiences or otherwise, that everything was great between the mother and father. They were having so much fun picking out names! They had a fun baby shower!  Took photos of them with tiny baby shoes and posted it on social media! So imagine instead that, maybe, this was an unplanned pregnancy. (I have no evidence of this for Baby Leo’s parents, but this is a mental exercise.) And they said, well, it wasn’t planned, and money’s tight, but let’s go for it. Maybe she thought he was a little too mean and sometimes drank too much, but she was sure that after the baby came he would change. And hey, even if he didn’t change, at least there are a lot of people around to help and hey, he’s a provider.  And then, he loses his job. He tries to find other work, but it is not looking good. And the nature of his work means that he has no access to any sort of unemployment benefits. They try to keep it together as a couple, but things are getting scary. They were barely making ends meet before he was laid off, and now this? And as she spends more time with him she realizes that he is sort of a jerk. But it looks like she is tied to him now, so maybe she should just put up with it. It isn’t like she is going to be able to find a new guy very easily, now a non-virgin with a kid. She is prepared to make it work, although sometimes after a big fight she wonders if there are other options. Maybe he beats her. Maybe he is a drug addict.  (Again. no evidence of this for Baby Leo, although we have heard from the mother that the father was unemployed.)

The baby is coming! She goes to the hospital with her mom and sister. It is her first delivery and she is scared. Her mom is running interference with the nurses, sliding bits of money here and there. The baby arrives and everyone is happy! But then the doctor comes to her and says that there is something wrong with the baby. The doctors and nurses’ normal reaction is to send the child to an institution. The mother is hormonal, considering her economic situation, her husband’s attitude and behavior, and the fact that there is little support for special needs children. Her mom and sister give their opinion. Her mother-in-law gives her opinion. Maybe they let it be known that they are not willing to help her be the full-time caregiver for this child for his entire life. They had only committed to caring for the child for the first 5 years and after that only after school. Plus in “their day” “these kind” of children were sent away. And mom, as a younger person with some skills, is a primary income-bringer to the household and if she stopped working, the household would suffer. The mom needs to let this sit for a bit. Then an option is proposed – leave the country. She adds this to her list of things to consider. She’s trying to recover from giving birth. Then imagine that the child’s father appears and whisks him away – maybe another jerk move. But now she’s hormonal and there is more at stake. Maybe she figures that any man that would take a child from its mother should not be one to whom she is married. And then maybe he lies about her to others and this really confirms it. Maybe she planned to divorce him all along and the best chance for her child is to be with him abroad, but that she herself cannot be with him anymore.

Again, I am not trying to imply that any of this happened with Baby Leo’s parents, but that it could have.

There is no way that any of us can know what has happened between these two people. For the most part we’re getting one side of the story and there must be many. Again, I hope to contextualize a bit and additionally hope that people take a moment to fathom that there very well could be good reasons for what individuals have done in this case.



06 Feb

Some context to the Armenia Down Syndrome baby story – UPDATED

Edits in red to reflect updated information.

ETA: Update 11:47pm Pacific 6 Feb: Baby Leo’s mother has come forward to tell her side of the story in an Armenian and English language Facebook post. She claims that her ex is not telling the truth.

For the last week the tale of baby Leo Forrest has been popping up in my social media feeds. Basically, an Armenian woman and a man from New Zealand who was living in Armenia got married, got pregnant, and when the baby was born it was discovered that he had Down Syndrome. The father says that the mother and her family wished to send the child to an orphanage (as is not uncommon in Armenia or many other places in the world). The father refused and decided that he wants to take the baby to his home country of New Zealand. The father started a crowdfunding site – asking for AUS$60k to get the baby to New Zealand and so the father wouldn’t have to work in the first year (although there was no sense of how this amount was determined) – the campaign wasn’t doing very well until yesterday when ABC News posted a story and now it is up to over AUS$500k. Incredible. The baby’s mother says that in the immediate emotional aftermath of the birth, she was asked if she wanted to keep the baby or not by the hospital and that it was decided by her that her husband would take the baby to New Zealand for a better life. She makes $180/month. Her husband was/is unemployed. She says that the father took the baby from the hospital and implied that it was without her permission. She seems to have decided that the baby will have a better life in New Zealand and that that is more important than her reputation. She says: “As a mother who has faced this severe situation, being in the hospital under stress and depression, experiencing enormous pressure from every side, not finding any support from my husband’s part on any possibilities of giving a child decent life in Armenia, I faced two options: to take care of the child on my own in Armenia, or to abandon my maternal instincts and extend the baby an opportunity to enjoy a decent life with his father in New Zealand. I went for the second option.”   

I have seen many people – Americans mostly – write before the mother’s side of the story came out about how this dad is a hero and how the mom is a horrible person. And while I absolutely agree that people with Down Syndrome should have all the opportunities in the world and I personally cannot imagine giving up my child, I also wish that these angry Internet commentors had some context. As someone who has spent a lot of time in Armenia and the region as well as someone who went through a pregnancy in Armenia, I hope that I can help contextualize.

First, it is true that it is not uncommon for babies with DS and other disabilities to be given to an orphanage – in Armenia and in many many countries of the world.

Second, it is also true that many women never make it to the point of giving a child up because they opt to terminate the pregnancy upon learning of a DS diagnosis. In fact, according to this article and Wikipedia, 92% of women who receive a pre-natal diagnosis of DS terminate the pregnancy – although this ranges by country. My pre-natal nurse friend told me that ultrasounds can detect DS markers and that blood tests, standard in America, at different stages can also determine a risk for DS. There are more sophisticated tests as well but are not standard in America or elsewhere. In my own pregnancy in Armenia, I had all those standard tests, but it may have been because I asked for them. I don’t know why this mother either did not have pre-natal screens or if she knew this information and chose not to terminate the pregnancy and rather deliver the baby. I have heard that she did have the sonogram and the DS markers did not show and that she did not have additional blood tests done, but I don’t have any concrete information. ETA: 10am Pacific, the mother reports that the sonogram was normal.

Third, I ask you to take into consideration that you probably have little idea of the cultural environment that this woman is living in and what kind of life this baby would have in Armenia. Life is hard in Armenia. There is great economic and political instability. Moreover, the lack of infrastructure and services for this child are tremendous. Having spent some time at orphanages for disabled children, I can say that those facilities – with trained staff and equipment – are probably “better” for these children in terms of opportunities than living at home and not having any sort of outpatient facilities (like a special school) available to them. Although some would disagree with me – there is no lack of criticism of the Armenian orphanage system. Additionally, there is social stigma attached to disability and a family would also have to deal with that. I’m not saying that this is an excuse, but it is the reality. Also because of the lack of infrastructure and services, I can imagine that a family would also have to consider what will happen to this child in his or her adulthood. If an adult with DS needs additional caregiving, will there be someone available to do it?

To be clear, I don’t like that this woman was willing to give up her child. Again, I want people with DS to have all the opportunities in the world. But I am certain that this child would not have as many opportunities in Armenia as he will in New Zealand. Finally, I also hope that people reading this story realize that it is infinitely more complicated and has many more sides than any of us know. So let us all hope for the best for all parties involved.


ETA: Salon did an interesting story on this as well.

ETA: Here’s a nice article written by the mother of a child with DS on this issue.

ETA: Media.am had a great article about the media reaction to this story.

06 Jan

IDPs and religiosity

ISIS/L is on everyone’s minds nowadays. Some people are concerned that IDPs in Azerbaijan are especially vulnerable to ISIS recruiting because of their marginalized position in society. (I did a blog post on attitudes toward IDPs in Azerbaijan in 2013.)

Some colleagues asked if there was any evidence that Azerbaijani IDPs are more likely to be Sunni or Shia and how religious they are. I took to the 2011 Caucasus Barometer (the most recent that asked about IDP status) and looked at IDPs versus non-IDPs and religion.

I should mention here that measuring religiosity is incredibly difficult and especially so in post-Soviet societies where there is a complicated historical blip, so to speak. With religion being suppressed during the Soviet period, certainly some religious actions were lost. As such, one needs to look at a variety of measures of religiosity. Robia Charles has some great work on this here and here.

Respondents were asked to name their religion.

This is for official IDP status. Note that most respondents named “Islam” not Sunni and Shia Islam as their religion. Also there are slightly more respondents saying Shia within the IDP population than the non-IDP population. 6% isn’t a huge different though. And, importantly, no IDPs (in this sample) said Sunni Islam. This isn’t surprising given that IDP regions are traditionally Shiite anyway.


I looked at other measures of religiosity including self-report, frequencies of fasting, attendance of religious services, importance of religion in life and differences between IDPs and non-IDPs, and then Sunni/Shia/Islam IDPs and non-IDPs were quite insignificant. There were small thinks like IDPs are less likely to fast, but hey, IDPs also might have greater hunger problems, right?

This is by no means a sample of the entire IDP population and I’m certain that there is great variance among IDPs. But this analysis shows that IDPs being more likely to be Sunni is erroneous at least.

03 Jan

January 2015 Facebook use in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – according to Facebook

This is an update to this post from January and this post from March and this post from September.

It is hard to know how many people in a country are using Facebook, but through Facebook’s Ad selling program, you can get some rounded information. The numbers they give are not exact, so these percentages displayed below are not accurate for the true number of users. THESE RESULTS MAY NOT ADD UP TO REASONABLE 100%S. I calculated everything from the actual population. So when it says 36% of Georgian women are X, I calculated from the population data from the World Bank. This isn’t SOLID information, but it does come FROM Facebook, so it is a little bit better than SocialBakers.

This is what it looks like to find out this information:


So, Armenia has 2,974,184 people, Azerbaijan 9,590,159 people, and Georgia 4,555,911 people total according to the World Bank and after I subtracted those age 0-14 (World Bank’s category, not mine) the populations are Armenia: 2,460,436; Azerbaijan: 7,419,487; Georgia: 3,855,233.

Facebook Ads says that this many people in each of those countries is a potential viewer of their ads (thus a Facebook user): Armenia: 580,000 (in January) 620,000 (in March) 680,000 (in September) 740,000 (in January 2015) ; Azerbaijan: 1,320,000 (in January) 1,380,000 (in March) 1,460,000 (in September) 1,460,000 (in January 2015); Georgia: 1,220,000 (in January) 1,280,000 (in March) 1,380,000 (in September) 1,500,000 (in January 2015).

Thus, here are the percentages of the age 14+ populations of each country who are on Facebook:




Armenia: 30%
Azerbaijan: 20%
Georgia: 40%

So that is interesting, but let us look at gender differences (I took the direct gender population data from the age distribution tables – this is not 50/50, but more accurate).

And let’s look at this over a year.


Lots of growth in Armenia and Georgia and some in Azerbaijan.





Armenians and Georgians are evenly distributed gender-wise on Facebook. And Azerbaijanis, well, this gender difference is shown in a lot of other research.




In terms of the balance of users, Armenians are fairly even, Georgians have a bit more women and you can see that about 2/3rds of Azerbaijanis on Facebook are men. Although this may seem shocking, this is much better than it has been in previous years.





Wow Georgia! Most Georgian young adults are on Facebook, no doubt about that. About 60% of Armenian young adults and for Azerbaijan 60% of male young adults and a little less than a third of female young adults.

For comparison, here’s Caucasus Barometer derived information from 2012 and 2013.

I added a new measurement this quarter – looking at language use. I assume that Facebook is deriving this information from the language that a user chooses as their main Facebook language – not what they’re typing in. Although, I’m not sure about this. Facebook gathers a lot of data about its users and it could autodetect the language that the person uses. Also, I have no idea if these contain multiple languages. There could easily be users that use two languages equally. And also certainly this doesn’t detect transliterated languages.

But, not all language choices are available in the Facebook ad system. I’m sure lots of people use Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian for their Facebook platform.


This makes sense to me, but what’s going on in Georgia? I assume that this empty space is Georgian.

I wish that I knew more about how they calculate this, but it is interesting nonetheless.

27 Nov

Memeriffic! Having Fun With The Baku 2015 Mascots

This week the mascots for the 2015 Baku European Games were released. And they’re so cute!

Jeyran (deer) is a female deer/gazelle (despite having antlers – only male deer have antlers) and Nar (pomegranate) is a boy with a pomegranate for a head (?).

Maybe Nar is a girl? The eyelashes seem feminine.

Social media users did not disappoint! These mascots were quickly made into memes! There have been so many of them that I can’t keep track of all of them. But here are some of the best.

(Many of these are via a post on Minval.az)


Jeyran presents dolma!



Jeyran as Conchita West.



Nar versus Bruce Lee.

Here’s Nar playing kamancha (and a subtle other play on words).



Jeyran and Nar are celebrities!



Jeyran is being picked up.



Nar in a police lineup.



And getting a little inappropriate.

But some were more explicitly political…



“Woman, behave yourself!” (Thanks to a Twitter friend for a better translation.)


Here’s Jeyran and Nar detaining Popular Front member Asif Yusifli, who was kidnapped earlier this week.



And there was an entire series featuring the N!DA members, currently in prison.

24 Nov

#Armenia versus #Հայաստան versus #Армения

Twitter is a great platform, but for better or worse, it added support for non-Latin alphabets quite late. Today media.am had a great article on the use of the hashtags #Armenia, #Հայաստան (Armenia in Armenian script), and #Армения (Armenia in Russian).

I thought that I’d add an additional layer by doing a NodeXL hashtag analysis.

Here’s #Armenia


This is 2000 twitter users (a limit of 18,000 tweets) that used #Armenia in the last week. Group 1 are those that tweeted #Armenia but didn’t reply to or retweet anyone. Not surprisingly this is the majority of the use of this hashtag. They were mostly tweeting news stories about Armenia or were spammers.

The other groups though are quite interesting. They’re very tight clusters.
Group 2 seems to mostly be discussing the recent helicopter issue and features the popular Twitter user GoldenTent as well as the British Embassy in Armenia and the OSCE. Group 3 is talking about Armenia and Turkey and Kurds and seems to be mostly people in Turkey. Group 4 are talking about the city of Armenia in Colombia! Groups 6 and 10 are certainly Azerbaijanis based on the links that they share.

Here is #Հայաստան.


This contains only 90 Twitter users with tweets from the last week. There are almost no clusters as you can see. It does appear that these users are mostly writing in Armenian though.

And this is #Армения.


There were 162 Twitter users over the last week. Most were not replying or retweeting each others (see group 1) and their favorite links are usually instagram photos. Group 2, however, is considered a “broadcast” network where a lot of people were retweeting or replying to one user, SovietExplorer, a Russian news site. But Group 2 users didn’t have anything else in common other than a lot of tweets from Azerbaijani news sites. Group 6 is similar in a lot of posts from pro-regime Azerbaijani news sites.

I’d suggest that #Армения is a place where Azerbaijanis (also with Russian skills, obviously) are “seeking” to talk about Armenia.

03 Nov

Why I’m Going Device-Free (sort of) in My Classroom (9/29) – UPDATED 11/3


My classroom is literally a sea of devices. This may surprise those of us that went to college before the era of affordable laptops, tablets, and smartphones. For us, going to class meant writing notes in a notebook. Only two of my undergraduate professors used PowerPoint and I explicitly remember getting a C in a science course where the professor put the PowerPoints online, thus resulting in me not attending the lecture. Even in my graduate school years, laptops in the graduate classroom were pretty rare.

But today, things are quite different. For the last 3 years at least, every class that I’ve taught has 95%+ of the students watching me over the edge of a device.

My attitude toward all these devices has generally been laissez faire. I usually teach classes about technology. And I had a syllabus policy asking students to be considerate in their use of technology while in the classroom.

And when I am in a lecture environment at a conference, I too like being on my devices. I tell myself that I am taking notes or Tweeting comments, but I am fooling myself. I am also checking Facebook, email, or reading Twitter. And as a result, I am not getting as much out of the lecture.

And my students must not be getting much out of my lectures either.

This summer an article appeared in the Chronicle that made me change my mind about my laissez faire attitude. Anne Curzan presents the empirical evidence against having devices in the classroom and how she presents this evidence to students. I was convinced. The main findings that were meaningful to me were that the brain learns better when taking notes and that students who can see other students’ laptop screens are distracted enough that it impacts their learning. It is that second-hand smoke situation that pushed me over the edge.

This quarter I’m teaching an undergraduate course on social effects of technology. This is the second time that I’ve taught it and it emerged from another course on social effects of mobile communication, which I taught three times. The class is semi-flipped in that I lecture for one of the 2 hour sessions (and I put the PowerPoint online days before the class meets) and the students do a group project on the other 2 hour session. Students write a 750 word reflection paper each week and do weekly reading quizzes, but there are no exams.

In such an environment, in my opinion, students do not need to take detailed, searchable lecture notes on a device. My lecture only plays a small role in their reflection papers. They could easily print the PowerPoint or just write in a notebook.

My class isn’t “device-free” though. I will ask students to take out devices for small research activities. (Tomorrow I’ll be asking them to think about the affordances of sites/apps like YikYak, Ello, Whisper, and Secret. The students may need to do some research on what these sites offer.) And on the weekly class sessions that are exclusively group work, research, blog writing, and PowerPoint creation will all happen on devices.

But will the students hate it? It is possible. So like Anne Curzan, I’m trying to introduce the idea with research. This class is organized around weekly questions. “What’s the effect of technology/social media on X? (X = learning, relationships, privacy, etc.)” and our first week’s question is what is the effect of technology on notetaking.

The students were assigned these readings:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/05/multitasking_while_studying_divided_attention_and_technological_gadgets.html – a Slate article on multitasking

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-case-for-banning-laptops-in-the-classroom – a New Yorker article that summarizes the research on laptops in the classroom

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2014/09/why-clay-shirky-banned-laptops-tablets-and-phones-from-his-classroom/ – a Clay Shirky article on why he banned devices in the classroom

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131509001900 – an ethnographic study arguing for devices in the classroom

And in our weekly activity, the students will work with our departmental librarian to do more research on this topic.

Then their first writing assignment asks them to make an argument, with evidence, for or against devices for notetaking.

I am going to be open minded. If the students can convince me, I am willing to consider having a “device zone” in the back row of the classroom. Also, if any students need devices for disability accommodations, I will automatically set a “device zone” policy.

Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing what will happen. And I’m starting to wonder about devices in my other classes. In MA/PhD graduate seminars, the students have devices to refer to the digital assigned readings. There is a strong expectation that they’ll refer to the readings multiple times in a seminar session. I don’t think that devices are as much of a problem in that environment. In the winter quarter I’m teaching a large exam-based research methods class. I don’t think that I can ban devices there. But maybe I could? Or maybe I could do a device zone there? Any thoughts?


UPDATE early November.

I’ve been teaching without devices for notetaking for over a month now and I have to say that I LOVE IT and the students do too. I had the students read a lot of the research and write reflection papers arguing for or against devices for notetaking. The vast majority argued against using them. I then asked them in class to vote (by moving to a side of the room) for, against, or don’t care. And only one student wanted them. I was amazed.

Since then I’ve been pleasantly surprised – the students are incredibly engaged. I taught this last just last spring term and it is like night and day. The students’ grades on every assignment are statistically significantly higher. More students say more things in class – to the point where my timing is off because all my slides are timed for 1 hour and 50 minutes. In almost every class I’ve had to skip a lot of slides because the discussion was so good.

There have been 2 or 3 times that I see a device out – but this has never been while I’m lecture, rather when other students are presenting. I go over and lightly touch the student on the shoulder. And when they have their devices out for a project, I’ve noticed less goofing off. They’re honoring the spirit of being device-free.

Every student that has come to office hours have said how much they like it and many have told me that they have stopped using devices in other classes.

I do a mid-term feedback survey and here’s what the students had to say about devices:

“I particularly like the way we learn through interactive and engaging discussions in class with the visual aids. I also love the fact that we are encouraged to just use notebook paper to take notes, I like that there are minimal distractions. Everything is very insightful and entertaining, and in no way boring.”

“I think not allowing technology really helped us concentrate more during class.”

“I really enjoyed the in class discussion and group work part. I feel that it is very nice and interesting to hear what others think about the topics. I also think the way you asked us to vote about the in class use of devices really got us into deeper thinking about the topic.”

“A device-free zone and focusing on topics that are relevant in our lives, such as social media. I also love the structure. It is consistent every week and having to perform my best on every assignment instead of just one midterm and final is refreshing and I think working quite well.”

I’m finalizing the syllabus for my large lecture course next quarter and I’m going to stay device-free. I’m thrilled.