Sunday, February 1, 2009

What Happened to the Good Ol' Days?

I’d like to ask all my fellow students if they remember a time when students were not surfing online during class time. I don’t recall so many people being online in my first and second years (I’m now in fourth year). It could be that I just don’t remember, but I don’t think it was so prevalent. These days it’s likely that if I look at someone’s computer screen in class, they’ve got something else up other than their lecture notes. Gff had a blog post that touched on a similar issue last week, and while I commented on his post, I thought I would expand and add even more of my own opinion on the subject of laptops in the classroom.
I think that perhaps part of the reason there are more people checking email and Facebook during classes is that our wireless connection at school is now much better. The fact that the school has had to improve the wireless connection shows how much more we rely on the Internet, just in the past few years. I have actually heard classmates complain about not being able to access the wireless during class. It still boggles my mind, even though it has been like that for the past two years at least. I understand that sometimes class can be a bit boring, but that’s no reason to distract everyone around you by looking up the latest news on Perez Hilton (and no, I am not providing a hyperlink, he bothers me!) or playing a game of Solitaire. Or talking to a friend on MSN! I know you’re bored, but I should not be able to read about the hot guy you picked up at the bar on the weekend. I think we are getting so used to having the Internet available to us everywhere and at all times that sometimes it’s difficult to resist checking our Facebook when we have the option to. I don’t bring my laptop to class, but I am guilty of talking on MSN and playing games while watching television or movies with my roommates. There is no need for me to be on my computer, the whole point of those nights is to get some quality time with my roommates, but because I can be online, I am. I think it’s the same sort of idea with people in classes. The point of having a laptop in class is to take notes, but because people can be online, they are.
Sometimes I wonder what our parents did when they were in class. They didn’t have laptops and wireless Internet to play with when they got bored (or just didn’t care about their marks). Have we really gotten so used to a world where we can access whatever we want whenever we want that we are incapable of leaving the Internet alone for a few hours? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to have wireless Internet on campus, but mostly for those people who are stuck on campus all day and have work to do that requires online sources. There are even sometimes occasions where it is beneficial in class. I recently sat next to someone who was looking up the YouTube videos and pictures that the professor was using in his lecture as they were brought up. I thought that was a great idea, but then I wondered, how much of the lecture is he actually taking notes on? So maybe even that great idea isn’t that great when you think about why you are actually in class, which is to take notes and learn something from the professor.
Just in case we don’t have enough technology in schools, our university has just unveiled a new program for incoming business students. Starting next year, online notes and tests will be available on BlackBerries – which will be provided to the students with a basic plan from Rogers. I’m still a little confused about that. I understand that wireless technology is important and becoming a greater part of our lives these days, but I don’t think it’s necessary to implement a new technology for educational purposes. I especially think that it should not be a cell phone type technology, which is usually frowned upon in normal class settings. It’s hard to say that this introduction is a bad thing, because it is something that will probably help the business students later on in life. But I return to the title of my last post, how much is too much? Is it really necessary for the students to have BlackBerries for educational purposes? What do you guys think? I don’t have a concrete opinion on the integration of BlackBerries to the classroom, but I do wonder what your thoughts are. Also, do you think that the Internet is becoming too much of an issue in class, as I do? I don’t know what could change, but I do know that something needs to be done if people are going to be able to concentrate in class.


  1. The internet has become a huge distraction in class and more and more students are beginning to let their site-surfing addictions take over their minds during class. This is a little off topic, but I didn't see your post to my post entitled "Laptops Prohibited?" You said you commented on it, but it's not showing up. If you haven't read it, check it out. Is there a setting I need to switch?

  2. After reading both of your blogs, i think you are both correct in saying technology is a huge distraction to not only the guilty party using the laptop, but to those behind or beside you in class.

    As for the integration of BlackBerry's into academia, as long as the lecture notes and slides aren't exclusively available on BlackBerry and are still available on WebCT, i think I would be okay with this. Also, no student should be forced to buy a BlackBerry and data plan, if that is indeed how the contract will be worked out.

    I read the Cord article as well, it said that LORIS will also be available on the BlackBerry. Personally, I would like to see WLU make strides to improve the current LORIS system on traditional computers before venturing to new mediums. It would be nice to see WLU pour some resources into current technologies rather than put money into new technologies, when it is apparent that the current LORIS system isn't anywhere near fully functional.

  3. Illuminate, I think you have some great points that I didn't even think of. I don't think the students will be forced into getting a plan, but I'm sure they could feel as though they are left out or something (which is a very high school way to think about it) if they don't have one. Also, I definitely agree with you about how LORIS should be figured out more before they attempt to have it compatible for BlackBerries.