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!