"You know, this has been brought up a few times by different people, but it still kind of amazes me just how different and just how similar technology has changed the college classroom in the 18 years from when I first started.
In 1995 I was living in the dorms at LMU and had a giant clunky computer tower, no tv, and the internet was still in it’s infancy. WAIS was still the big search tool, IRC and web pages were just starting, and few people had an email address. There were even typewriters you could borrow from the campus! Few students had cell phones, there were no smart phones, and the bulletin board in the dorm was the only real mass communication you had. Without email, professors would never send out reminders, and if you wanted to talk to them it was in class, office hours, or good luck trying to call them. There were no online submission, powerpoint slides couldn’t be easily shared since no prof would try and fit them on a bunch of 3.5 inch floppies, and getting a copy of notes meant photocopying them and hand delivering them. I love how everyone now has a camera phone and just snaps pics of the board in class, back then you found the person with the best art skills and gave them a few bucks to copy that complicated diagram the prof threw up on a transparency that there was no way you could draw yourself. And yep, transparencies were the only real technology in the classroom. He’d slap one down, write all over it, and you did your best to keep up with it and the lecture.
Almost every lower div GE class had an in class writing assignment every week. Science classes had lab manuals, math had in class worksheets, and the English/Social Sci/Humanities all had a paragraph or two you had to write and turn in in class. I don’t see much of that anymore. I’m guessing profs just don’t want to deal with people’s handwriting vs grading typed assignments, math and lab books still being unchanged though. I will say that if you brought a printer with you to campus back then, you were seen as a superstar. They were huge, unwieldy, and costly, and I had a giant laserjet that I rebuilt after finding it in the trash and man I was KING.
We also didn’t have ebooks, so while my comp lit friend had something like 12 books to read this quarter, we were able to find 8 or 9 of them in ebook format which made things a lot easier. I know that I love being able to screenshot an image/diagram from the book or google the same image and stick it into my notes now, but back then you just winged it as best as you could!
I think the biggest change has been the amount of information at our fingertips thanks to the proliferation of the web. It’s radically changed how we learn and how we think! In 1995 if I didn’t understand a topic in the lecture, I had to ask the prof to explain it differently, and let’s be honest, few can. Your other option was to go to the campus library and find a book on it, or ask a friend to try and explain it, and that was it! Now you can just google things and find a thousand different ways of explaining the same thing and you’re bound to find one that clicks with you almost instantly. Don’t understand chemical bonding or polymer chains? Google it! Can’t remember who General Joseph Wheeler is and what part he played in the Spanish American war? Google it! Can’t figure out what that weird term is in your climatology class? Guess what? Google it! Even better, you sorta remember a quote or saying that would really make your essay powerful, but for the life of you, you can’t remember who or what or anything… well, you can probably just google it! No more having to run to the library on campus, no more having to ask friends, no more struggling, all of that information is just right there! It’s no longer about knowing EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING, it’s about being well rounded and knowledgeable about a bunch of stuff that you can then look up specifics for later. Yeah you read Candide and Huis Clos, but you may not remember the quotes or everything about Sartre, but when you need to, you can google the specifics! You know Shakespeare said a “your mom” insult but you don’t have to remember it was Act IV, Scene II of Titus Andronicus where Aaron said to Chiron “Villain, I have done thy mother!”, you just have to google shakespeare your mom insult.
School has changed. I carry my laptop with me everywhere, I download my textbooks, I no longer worry about the nitty gritty details, I can focus on concepts and general knowledge, I know that there is a hive-mind I can tap into should I need it, communication is instantaneous, even across the globe, and communication with professors has changed greatly. Moodle, Podcasts, the Web, it’s all changed how we learn as well as what we learn. I don’t think there would be much of a shock for a student from the 1700s to sit in a classroom in the 1980s or 90s. Sure there are electric lights, maybe a tv or a computer in a corner of the room, but 99% of the learning was as it always was. You sat down with a pencil and paper and had to memorize as much as you could of the info that was shoved down your throat. Now, I sit there with my laptop, kindle, and cell phone, recording the notes, following along in the book and on google, and I learn more about the subject through exploration and listening without worry of being able to read my chickenscratch.
A lot has changed in 18 years, being a nontraditional student has given me a unique perspective of how it was vs how it is now. In many ways I grew up over those years, and thanks to technology, so did education!”
¿Qué será para ti mi nombre?
va a morir como el rumor triste
de una ola que golpeó contra la orilla lejana,
como un son nocturno dentro del bosque perdido.
En una hoja del recuerdo
dejará su huella muerta,
semejante al dibujo de una inscripción sepulcral
en un idioma ignorado.
¿Qué será mi nombre?
Olvidado por mucho tiempo
entre las emociones nuevas y rebeldes,
no dará a tu alma sus memorias, puras, tiernas.
Pero en un día de tristeza, en el silencio,
pronúncialo, ansiosa y di:
hay quien me recuerda dulcemente,
hay en el universo un alma donde vivo.
What means for you my simple name?
It soon will die as voice of grief —
A wave splash at a distant reef,
A stir in wilderness untamed.
In pray-for-dead despondent rolls
It will leave just the lethal trace
That likes the epitaph in lace,
Which nobody discerns at all.
What does it hold? Forgotten whole
In new and rebel agitation,
It will not give to your young soul
The clear and gentle commemorations.
But in the sad and silent day
You will repeat this name with fervor;
There is in whole world, you say,
The heart in which I live forever…