What Does Tech Think: Would You Allow a Small Child in Class?

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The Situation:

A student, who is the single parent of a small child, has emailed you hours before class to let you know that she can’t find childcare and has to bring her child to class. You’ve made it clear that students can’t miss this particular class. How would you handle the situation?

The Response:

As a parent of two children, Kelly Comfort, an assistant professor in the School of Modern Languages, is understanding of this situation.

“I would tell that student that she is welcome to bring her child to class this one time, provided that the child were not a distraction to her or to others,” Comfort said. “But if the child were to fuss, I would expect her to leave the class and return only if the child had calmed down.”

She added that the student would be welcome to record the class to get any missed information. “I would also talk to the student about back-up childcare options and underscore that bringing a child to class cannot be a recurring situation,” Comfort added.

Katja Weber, co-director of the European Union Center in Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, would put the student in touch with the Women’s Resource Center to ensure that she is aware of the childcare options that Tech offers.

“I’d also encourage the student to come to my office before class and would offer to assist in finding a babysitter, since there are typically students in our computer lab who would be willing to help out in a pinch,” Weber said.

Joyce Weinsheimer, associate director for faculty development in the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), suggested that the faculty member should utilize technology to deal with the situation.

“Whenever we want students in class because of what we will cover, we should consider how technology might help us out,” she said. “For example, there’s a tool called ‘Wimba’ that is integrated with T-square and allows for synchronous instruction at a distance.”

Wimba provides audio, video, content display and application sharing, so even if an instructor and students are not in the same physical location, class can go on.

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