500 Words At A Time: Technological Hurdle

Where should I begin? I’m feeling a bit technology oriented, more than I am attempting to explain how this all came to past…is it past yet since I am done? Perhaps, came to be. You tell me.

Many years ago, roughly 30, when I was in school there were blackboards and chalk. Students had books, pencils, and pens-although pens were frowned upon. I was taught how to type on a typewriter and the computer was just rearing its head, but as a form of entertainment or historical lesson in how most wagon caravans did not cross the country due to dysentery.

The first time I formally entered college, nothing had changed. Well that is not true, computers were more prevalent, in that the school had them, but my papers were typed out on a Brother Word-processer; a fancy electronic-typewriter. It weighed ton. There were people who had computers at home, but they were also huge and limited in what they could do…yet, if you had one you were considered pretty cool. In class, I had a book, pencil, and more pens. Essentially, nothing in the classroom had changed.

Fast forward 30 years. Computers are everywhere. Tablets and cellphones do a lot of what computers can do, in some cases are better. I listened with rapt attention when Barb was telling me how technology was incorporated into her classroom experiences, in the form of power point presentations, clicker test taking, and overhead projectors….oh wait, some of that is not new. In fact, other than the clicker test taking, where a remote control registers your answer, and power point, nothing had changed. Some classes had a blackboard and others had a whiteboard. The shift being to whiteboards.

Now imagine me, now, as in today five years ago (ha), heading off to college yet again. I have a backpack, pencil (just one and it was mechanical), pens (more than anyone other than a writer would need), a huge stack of notebooks, and a tablet. I was prepared for old school and hoping for new school. During orientation (another 500 Words altogether), I shown classrooms where the tour guide boasted about Ferris’s WiFi, plugs for computers, and the latest in projector technology. Yes, the latest in projector technology. In other words, the overhead projector worked with the computers at the professor kiosk. I did not see any blackboards. I was excited to be able to use my tablet in classrooms to revolutionize note taking-my own revolution, I incorrectly assumed that students were already doing that.

Day 1, the whiteboard worked, the overhead projector worked, Ferris’s WiFi did not work in the building where I had most of my classes (as of today that has been fixed, but for the first two years, not so much), and as for using the tablet to take notes…lets just say that the old way is better, if nothing else I only had to contend with a pen going dry versus technology issues, such as WiFi.

Here is where it gets weird, I am 40+ years old. I am a huge fan of technology. I have a tablet and a computer. I use them both. I have been an early adopter of most technology, I had a PDA (remember that). I expected that technology would be embraced by both students and professors at the college level to enhance the learning process.

It has not. Students use their laptops, tablets, and cellphones to

  • text each other in and out of class
  • shop
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube
  • listen to music…yes, listen to music during class
  • watch porn…yes, watch porn
  • and on occassion, not as much as you would hope take notes and enhance learning

When I look around, the piece I see missing is education about technology; people know how to use technology, but people do not know how to use technology efficiently, especially in the classroom. I’m not sure where the process should start, I’m here in Big Rapids where our children are sort of learning how to use computers in school; children’s learning games mostly, which is done separately from classroom lecture.

In a few months I am done and nothing will have changed. There are computerized “whiteboards” that allow for so much more (there are few in our kid’s school). Tablets and cellphones are not going away. Yet, I am going to guess that many more years will pass before a good integration of technology will happen-students will have to learn to put it to use for something other than looking at their crotch and professors/schools will have to learn to embrace technology. Imagine the amount of learning that will get done then…


One thought on “500 Words At A Time: Technological Hurdle

  1. Pingback: 500 Words At A Time: Registration | Speaking Out On Life

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