Balancing the benefits against the distractions

Establishing Tour Rules for Student Electronics

by Lance Harvey

As an educator you have likely had to weigh in on the topic of whether to allow students use certain electronic devices in the classroom and likely had to enforce guidelines regarding their usage. The traveling classroom will present many of the same challenges but may involve some different considerations. In our experience we have seen many effective tour leaders take different approaches on the topic. You must balance the competing interests and develop guidelines to achieve your tour goals.

 The pros of phones and electronics on tour:

  • Safety on Tour- Cell phones permit students to remain connected to their chaperones as well as their parents.
  • Cell phones are the primary cameras for most students today. 
  • Smart phones give the students access to the tour portal and other educational materials that can bolster their tour experience.
  • Many tour apps can aid your tour experience

 The cons of misuse of electronics on tour:

  • Can cause a distraction to the tour as students tend to constantly be engaging in texting and other activities rather than paying attention to the tour guides and chaperones.
  • They may also raise a privacy and safety concern if students are constantly making public posts about sensitive data.
  • At the hotel, students can freely communicate between rooms and plot to break curfew rules rather than get necessary sleep

 Consider some of these effective strategies:

  • Enter into a written ‘Cell Phone Contract’ with the students and parents setting forth the rules concerning cell phones.
  • Consider disallowing any electronics to be used except during designated free times (or as a camera).
  • Consider taking up cell phones and chargers each night in keeping them charged in a chaperone’s room.
  • Establish designated ‘free time’ when students are permitted to use their electronics.
  • Maintain the same rules you have at school to avoid ambiguity.

 Let Us Hear Your Thoughts!

Share with us your experiences with permitting student electronics on tour and how you have best maintained a healthy tour environment. If you have created written cell phone or electronic contracts, please share with us the key terms of those contracts. 

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