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Computers and College

There are a lot of effects that computers and, more specifically, the Internet has on my current educational experience.

My school’s website and all the web services have been down since yesterday afternoon. Apparently, somebody hacked into it. I’m not entirely sure why they would bother, but I also don’t really know what kind of information the university stores online. According to my TA, the firewall is terrible. Apparently, this kind of thing has happened before. You’d think with all the money we pay to go here they’d be able to invest in a decent security system.

Either way, the system malfunction made me realize just how much we rely on this kind of technology here. We use a learning platform, called BlackBoard, that basically lets us have all the course information online. That means syllabuses, homework assignments, calendars, and even tests and quizzes can be read or taken online, but only if the system is working, of course. I don’t have a hard copy of hardly anything- except for in-class exams that we don’t get back after filling them out- and even if I did, I don’t bother keeping track of them because they’re easily accessible by logging into BlackBoard again. With the system down, however, I can’t get to anything- no handouts, no homework calendars, no uploaded files unless I already saved them to my computer.

Computers and the Internet affect more than just how we use BlackBoard, however. I email some of my assignments to my professors. I take notes on my laptop for a few of my classes. Teachers often use PowerPoint presentations to give lectures, and sometimes even upload those to BlackBoard, which means I have access to the lecture without even going to class.

Laptops are another thing. I don’t think I know of a single college student who doesn’t have one, even if they don’t take it to class. To be honest, I don’t go around asking everyone I see, and some people use tablets instead, but there is a very large percentage. This means instant access to everything on the Internet, at anytime. A professor asks a question in class? Don’t think, just google it. Bored during a slideshow? Let’s check Facebook for the twelfth time. Have a homework assignment due in an hour? Work on it during your history lecture and email it to your professor when you’re done. Hardly any professors ban laptops from their classroom unless it’s a small, seminar-based class. I’ve seen students video-chatting across the lecture hall by turning the sound off, making faces at each other, and using the chat room to communicate. Are our attention spans so low that we can’t just take an hour to actually focus on one thing at a time?

The use of technology in a learning environment isn’t all bad. There’s a student in my choir who uses her ipad instead of printing out twenty-million pieces of paper for the music we get. Online courses mean you can study and learn when you have time instead of trying to fit a lecture into a complicated schedule. Having the teacher’s notes available really helps to study the material, and the online library database the school has is amazing. For me, this is kind of weird because my high school barely used any technology at all, since we were small and didn’t really have the budget. Whether this is overall a good or bad thing is up for interpretation. Nonetheless, it’s clear that technology has a huge influence on how we study here.

One Comment on “Computers and College”

  1. Cheddarface says:

    I absolutely agree. There’s a complete difference in classes now than from even 10 years ago because of tech like this.

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