I think Christopher is onto something, i.e., if you fail to make it relevant in any sense -- contemporary and useful -- many of your listeners will "check out" via any of the electronic diversions available today. (Banning such devices, attempting a return to the ivory towers of yesteryear, will be a hard sell and could have "unintended consequences."
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On the whole "technological devices" debate, I can definitely understand both sides. I've been a graduate teaching assistant for quite some time and I've consistently allowed the use of electronic devices in the classroom. I've seen both highly positive results (students asking excellent questions based on research they did on their own) and highly negative results (students goofing off on Facebook/Twitter/etc.). I even had several students memorize portions of Wikipedia entries and copy them on their exams rather than try to understand the material assigned or ask me if they didn't.
Call for Papers
A Necessary Victory? The Context and Consequences of the Battle of Britain
A Conference to be held at the Royal Air Force Museum in conjunction with the University of Exeter and the British Commission for Military History
26 September 2015
Alan Taylor. The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832. New York: New York, 2014. 624 pp. $18.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-393-34973-3; $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-393-07371-3.
Reviewed by Katie Thompson (West Virginia University)
Published on H-War (May, 2015)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey