Managing in-lecture media use: the feasibility and value of a split-class policy

  • Douglas A. ParryEmail author
  • Daniel B. le Roux
  • Laurenz A. Cornelissen


High levels of digital media use have become a feature of university lectures. While certainly capable of supporting learning outcomes, studies indicate that, when media use is off-task, it presents as a disruption, distracting both users and those around them from academic tasks. In this study an exploratory, mixed-methods assessment of a media use policy for a semester-long course is presented. This policy divided the lecture theatre into two sections, one for those who wished to use digital devices and one for those who did not. Such a policy empowered students to leverage the value of media, if desired, while affording those who wished not to use media, or be disrupted by their peers’ use of media, a degree of protection from distracting cues. Findings indicate that those who consistently selected the same side performed better than those who moved from side to side. Two post-course focus groups revealed that, while having some limitations, the policy was well received by the participants and heightened their awareness of the possible distractions of off-task media use, enabling them to identify and maintain a strategy for their in-lecture attentional allocation and behaviour.


In-lecture media use Technology in the classroom Technology and learning BYOD policy Higher education 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information ScienceStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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