500 Words At A Time: An Old Person In A Classroom, An Overview

So you are an old person like me going back to college…oh, sorry…you are a non-traditional student who happens to be over 25 and you, like me, have visions of technology running wild in the classrooms and an engaged student body. Allow me to smash those visions to the ground and jump on them, starting with the classroom.

Classrooms at Ferris State University do not encourage engagement, rooms tend to be all white or beige (kind of an off puke color) both of which put people in a quiet mode, like you would behave in a church, library, or hospital-quiet please. Decorations consist of fliers for “stuff” and a wall clock. An old fashioned wall clock with hands. I thought those were banned years ago, but here they are alive in well. There are classrooms that are different, but those have been few and far between.

It’s 2015, students should be sitting in comfy erognomically designed chairs and desks, complete with access to power for electronic devices and a holder for a drink AND a sound system next to the ears that amplify the professor’s voice. WRONG! Even good chairs are uncomfortable at best and down right painful at worst. Ergonomic is a foreign concept, see Ikea. Desk tops are flat, which is a plus, and there are tables with power outlets…unfortunately, many of them do not work. If you want power make sure to arrive early and sit next to the wall outlet, which can be as few as one.

The last time you went to school the teachers used blackboards and chalk, surely in today’s digital age college classrooms have full on Minority Report or Matrix style boards? Nope, but interestingly enough, Big Rapids Public School System does have some of the first computer interactive touch white boards. These are very cool, allowing teachers to post material to the white board and students can touch, draw, and write on the board to show what they are learning. Ferris State University has a lot and I do mean A LOT of white boards. Unfortunately, it seems to be the responsibility of the professors to bring their own dry erase markers. Erasers are sometimes left in rooms and while I do not know who is responsible for cleaning the boards, I can say that in many classrooms it needs to be done more frequently.

Surely, professors have access to more than a whiteboard, yes they do. A projector and a document projector. The projector hangs from the ceiling and “works” with the computer on a podium. Why the quotes, because the biggest working technological issue in any class is the computer working or the projector working. Problems with one or the other or both are common and have derailed classes. Still even when working, it is nothing more than projector technology.

I applaud professors for working with what they have in the classroom. The future is a ways off, at least in the classroom. What about online? Ferris State University is without a doubt has one of the strangest online platforms and systems of operation…but that is another 500 Words.





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