Classes and tests and papers, oh my!

I am taking a computer science class at UAF; Implementing Internet Technologies: Social Software. One of the class requirements is to blog 3-4 times/week; yikes! My blog is titled “the Sporadic Packrat” for a reason! And of course there are other assignments, like watching this movie about students in the information age, and writing a blog entry comparing it to my own experiences as a student. Another assignment is to keep up a wiki page.

Well, sure, going to class in 2008 isn’t much different from going to class in the early 1980’s. Except that I barely knew what a computer was, let alone how to use one. I took a class on programming in Basic, but found it so frustrating that I gave up. And I did go to the computer lab at UC Davis a couple of times, but all I could do was sit and stare at the screen, since I didn’t know any UNIX at all. I owned two or three different word processing machines; upscaled electronic typewriters that ran on batteries and electricity. I could take them outside and work on papers, which I printed out, cut up, and taped back together until I knew what text I wanted to keep and what I wanted to eliminate.

I didn’t graduate $20,000 or more in debt; I owed about $9,000, and paid that off within 3 or 4 years. Most of my education was paid for by (thank you!!) the US taxpayer, in the form of educational grants. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a cellphone. When I was in class, I took notes with pencil and paper, I didn’t scout through Facebook or play computer games on my laptop. I had two jobs all through school; I paid for my room and feeding my goats by working at several small farms for 10-15 hours/week, and I usually had a work/study position for 10 hours/week. Lower division classes at UCD were generally large; up to 400 students. Upper division courses were usually much smaller and my professors sometimes knew my name. Oh, and we used Walkmans, not iPods!

And I am very surprised that I have a job that didn’t exist in 1983. That I can’t do without a computer. That I can actually use a computer now, and some people think I’m good at it!

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3 responses to “Classes and tests and papers, oh my!

  1. The more things change, the more things stay the same? Technology changes so fast it’s hard to remember what things were like 10 years ago, while many parts of our educational system haven’t changed in any significant way since the Renaissance…

  2. I was trying to explain to someone yesterday how quickly web design changes; it is amazing that school hasn’t changed all that much. Except now the excuse is “I emailed my paper; it must have landed in your spam box” instead of “the goat ate it!”
    One other thing I noticed in the movie, was the lack of non-traditional students; our class is about half non-traditional students (or more?) and I think nowadays that is fairly normal, yet there was no mention made of the change in demographics. In the ’80’s, I was certainly in the minority as an older student; there might have been one or two, maybe three non-trad students in my smaller classes. And generally they were ex-Peace Corps volunteers (maybe because I was in an agricultural degree program?).

  3. That’s a good point I hadn’t thought about and particularly interesting given this institution. I’d previously noted the difference with class sizes– we have so few huge auditorium, turn-on-the-tape-recorder classes… but the non-traditional student population is the majority for us!

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