Old Dogs, New Tricks

A blog for non-traditional students


Technical difficulties, plus my entire weekend without the ‘net inspired me to talk about tech and how non-traditionals look at its widespread use on campus.

Okay, I admit it – I’d be lost without my emails and cellphone  – I know since my Zoomtown crashed last Friday and was down until Tuesday.  It wasn’t until I was rushing around with my laptop trying to find a free WiFi hotspot on Sunday that I realized how ridiculously dependent I was on my computer.  That realization turned to irritation as I thought about why I was so desperate to get online – I had three classes with projects due this week that required extensive use of the internet, plus I needed to try to straighten up this blog. 

I understand how useful the web is for professors.  It allows them to communicate efficiently outside of class with everyone, covering those who were absent or anyone who couldn’t hear that final instruction over the din of scraping chairs and zipping bookbags (is that an old fart word?).  But since I can’t do anything online while I’m driving back and forth to school and I can’t get online when I’m at my son’s soccer games or visiting my ailing grandparents or at lunch with my extended family… well let’s just say that although I appreciate the convenience of BlackBoard and wikis, I miss the good old days when homework involved a book and some paper – maybe a trip to the library.

Of course, all I have to do to realize the good old days are gone is glance around the McMicken quad between classes as we all rush to and fro.  The number of students with cellphones glued to their hands (or ears, for those lucky few with bluetooth headsets) or bopping along (another old fart slip) to their I-Pods blows me away every day.  I always think about when cellphones were so big they barely fit in briefcases, and the best way to take music with you was a Sony Walkman – the old cassette tape variety.

I remember when pay phones were scattered every people might gather – especially the malls, which had banks and banks of phones lined up along walls near the entrances and rest rooms.  Nowadays, most young people just wrinkle their brow in confusion if you ask them where the pay phone is – “Um, here’s the store phone, and I guess someone pays for it.”

Text messaging has replaced the unavoidable sea of beeping pagers of my youth.  Email is now not a luxury or an optional way of communicating but a vital necessity that we cannot get along without.  Forget about going to the library to research that paper – now we just hop online and peruse article databases while sitting at home in our jammies (alright that’s just little old lady – I’ll stop).

I’m not against life being easier, but something else has changed with our high-speed expectations.  It’s awful, but personal interactions are way less – well, personal – now and it’s particularly bad among our younger classmates.  Grammar is no longer a valued skill, and between spell check and text-lingo, vocabularies are losing substantial words – although they are being replaced, at least in some part, by little nuggets like BFF and AFAIK.

So maybe it sounds like sour grapes, and sure, I’m jealous that I had to learn how to type on actual typewriters (even a manual one) and if I wanted to talk to a teacher about something I had to hang around after class and be late to my next one.  But I worry a lot – especially about my son – that young people today are losing out on a valuable lesson that slower work and production instills in them – patience.  Not to mention the concept of delay of gratification.

*** Danielle


January 10, 2009 - Posted by | Technology

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: