Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Duly Noted

I was reading one of those pieces yesterday that highlights how kids today have never lived in a world without computers.  The average 10 year old (whatever that is) cannot imagine life without a hand-held device of some kind.
That got me thinking about college and college students.  Although I get into high school classrooms frequently in my work as a mentor, I realized that it's been a good while since I've been inside a college classroom.  College instructors I know complain bitterly about students with their electronics.  I have trouble imagining note-taking on a computer, but that assumes that's what college students are doing with their computers during a lecture or discussion.  I can't conceive of the distraction that social media must become.

I've heard of dramatic examples where college teachers have thrown major fits about perceived inattentiveness.  Some may even have asked that no electronics of any kind be in use at all.  But we all know the benefits of having a search engine handy when a term or an event or some puzzling vocabulary pops up now and then.  I suppose it's a trade-off.  A trade-off we really can't do much about anyway.
Had I and my contemporaries had a computer while in college, I wonder what the impact might have been.  All those papers on my little portable Remington typewriter.  All that fancy typing paper, those correction tabs and bottle of whiteout.  All those tangled typewriter ribbons, and yes all those trips to the library.
I have clear memories of the UCLA research library circa 1969 where no computers lit the shadowy room and people sat in cubicles with books and notebooks for hours.  No Instant anything to concern ourselves with.  I ought to go back and have a look one of these days just to see what gives now.
I wonder, too how the presentation of a beautifully printed, illustrated in full color paper impacts achievement these days too.  So who writes by hand any more?  Cursive handwriting isn't taught much any more in elementary schools.  What do notes in a lecture hall look like today?  I suppose the are bought and sold on line as well.

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