New application rewards students for not using phones in class

Jess PellegrinoGeneral Assignment Reporter 

Imagine earning free food, discounts and prizes, simply by paying attention in class and putting down mobile devices.

Pocket Points, an app created by Emily Turner, a sophomore at Penn State, makes that dream a reality. Pocket Points rewards students for keeping their phones stowed away during class.

Before class starts, the student simply opens the application and then locks their phone. As long as the phone stays locked, the student accrues points. If the student opens their phone during class, they forfeit their points.  Every 20 minutes the student’s phone stays locked, they earn one point. So, for an average one hour long class, the student can rack up three points.

But, there is potential to earn points even more rapidly. The more popular the app gets, and the more users logged in at the same time, the faster students can earn points.

At Penn State, the points are being used for free food, like cookies or sandwiches, at on campus dining areas and discounts on books or apparel at the school bookstore. The application is currently only available at Penn State and California State University. However, Turner, the app’s creator, plans to expand to other college campuses around the county this year.

The application promotes focus and attention in the classroom, using a rewards system. The idea behind the app is that if students are not fidgeting with their cell phones, they will grasp more of the lessons, because they will be paying closer attention to what the professor is saying.

Anna Truckenbrodt, senior social work major at Southern, believes students should not be rewarded for something that is already expected of them.

“I feel like the majority of professors feel that using your cell phone in class while they teach is disrespectful to them as educators,” said Truckenbrodt.  “So providing this incentive is not teaching students how to be more respectful to their professors, in that type of environment. It is just kind of putting a band aid on the real problem and not actually fixing anything.”

Truckenbrodt thinks that cell phones should be allowed in classrooms, regardless, as learning tools. “Personally, I think that not being able to use your cell phone or any type of electronic device during class in a college setting is ridiculous,” she said. “ We are adults and technology is helpful and useful.”

In this technology perpetuated era, cell phones and internet connected tablets can be used as resources in the classrooms. The internet is full of scholarly websites and learning tools.

Senior Stephanie Chang took a different approach to the application. She believes Penn State should allot free food and discounts for other, more deserving reasons.

Chang said, “I think that Penn State should reward students with food and other amenities for other things, such as grades, community involvement, and how they interact with others.”

She said these behaviors are more important and impressive than just choosing to not use your cell phone in a classroom. She believes whether or not you use your phone in class does not matter. What matters is your mentality about going to class.

“The use of cellphones in class is a personal decision which students really should not be rewarded for.” said Chang. “It makes no difference whether you use your phone in class, or not, honestly. It is all about what you obtain in knowledge from your own work. If you do not want to listen in class, turning your cell phone off is not going to make a difference.”

Photo Credit: iTunes Pocket Points 

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