Elizabeth Hart – The Internet Changes People

I am a non-traditional student. At 32 years old I am back in college for the second time, with a different major and completely different life goals than I had at 19, not surprising. I have had a lot of other surprises though re-adjusting to school, mostly knowing that my peers are not my generational contemporaries. And for that we have vast differences.

I am a millennial, with all the positive and negative things associated with that word, I am proud to be generation Y and yet I am constantly surrounded in school by generation Z students with different ideas, patterns, and ideals. Still, I feel more advanced and determined than generation Xers to
understand, to maybe be the linking bond, or bridge between these two vastly different worlds.

One thing I loathe from older generations is hearing that cell phones, social media, and headphones are getting in the way of connection, and experience. I completely disagree with this. But I do see how the internet and technology itself has completely changed the classroom experience.

Online quizzes make valuable lecture time open for more information, and allow testing to be done in less intense/stressful environments. In class questionnaire polling with QT Clickers, or smart phone apps allows teachers to immediately see how well students are grasping concepts. And with
homework that is graded as it is finished, with self-sending technology so that due dates are rarely missed, students no longer have to worry about their dog eating their homework, or their printer running out of ink. In my opinion these are all good things.

However, it is not all good. I am a very tactile learner. I enjoy hands on and intricate discussions to help me fully understand a concept. As a result I rely heavily on hand written notes that I take during each lecture. What I witness as a negative is the way technology has changed note taking. Professors often make lecture slides available online, and some even video tape lectures, making it completely unnecessary to even be present in the classroom. I believe this is not the best thing for college students, despite it being possible to have a more flexible schedule and less in class time I think students suffer
from not being in the moment face to face with a teacher and able to ask questions.

It’s not all up to professors though, because even professors who do not video lectures or make slides available for students to take notes on cannot control the student’s personal choices with how to run their own education. It was quite the shock to me when I attended my first back-to-school-after- twelve-years lecture and more than half the class was on their laptops, some taking notes, but others checking websites, looking at grades, emails, facebook, or even watching youtube videos with the sound off. And it’s not just students with laptops, but students on their smart phones as well. As helpful as technology is, this trend is sobering and discouraging. In order to correct these bad habits I believe professors need to take a harder approach on computer free classrooms, or disabling wifi in lecture halls.

And of course there is still a long ways to go. I greatly look forward to the times in the future where personalized computers are not embedded in phones, but even more personal like smart watches, glasses, and notebooks, but even beyond. Think of technological capable gloves or headphones that link to the internet, feed news, and allow for communication without having to lift your fingers or open your mouth.

Elizabeth Hart -The Internet Changes People