Thanks for your comment Julie,
Knowing some tricks to get on the Internet – like the fact that the connection speed is faster is you connect to the network through a cable than it is over WiFi – really can make a difference (like not having any 8:00 AM classes). One thing you made me think of from your comment is the changing nature of social interaction and how that will impact college campuses. Kids are spending much less time outside together than they used to because they are inside on their devices interacting on social media. I wonder when a critical mass of students who are residents on a college campus will opt to only take online courses for the same reasons?
I also remember going to the library and having to look up references, scan the pages or write the notes down, write the paper on Windows ’95, and then save it to a floppy disk to submit. We did not have the internet until I was in the 7th grade and even then, I basically blew up my parents’ computer with AIM and still had to go to the library all through high school to write papers and such (funnily enough, my classmates and I recently had a good laugh about this).
Anyways, I enjoyed your comments on the infrastructure universities need in order to meet the demands of the students. I remember my freshman year of college, waiting up at 6 AM to register for classes and the internet literally BROKE because it did not have the capacity to handle all of the students trying o accomplish the same task simultaneously. This was about a year or so after they started offering campus-wide WiFi and the infrastructure simply wasn’t caught up. Since then they have made significant changes to their structure.
With the growing realm of online education, it is interesting to think if it is even possible to have the kind of infrastructure to sustain this growth or if we need to look at how to invest and improve upon the technology we have.
Thanks for your comment! I’ve seen research that shows taking notes by hand helps retention when compared to taking notes on the computer. While that’s generally true based on the research methodology, I wonder if there is a difference based on age, technology familiarity, or even the software you use for notetaking?
I certainly didn’t want to diminish the experience of students who don’t take online classes. Depending on how the online course is facilitated it can be very limited and/or ineffective. I think the most important thing about the technological advancements we’ve made is that it has made knowledge and education more attainable to a larger number of people. That matters; however, if you prefer in-person classes with textbooks – do you if you can.
I feel like there might also be a difference in the classes that are undergrad versus graduate as a whole than just as them being an online class versus a face-to-face class. For example, I have in general enjoyed my graduate classes significantly more because they are focused towards my field of study as opposed to some undergrad classes where I was just there because I needed the credits. I have never taken a true online class (except where the professor was occasionally snowed in) so maybe I just do not know what it is like. I enjoy what Professor Gannon has to say though about having to engage students in a new way. Makes me think about what is the best way to reach students in an online setting – is watching a lecture and taking a short quiz that is probably pretty easy to cheat on really the best way to engage students in an online setting?
There are many aspects we should look into this topic but you just reminded me how I was studying when we did not have internet access. I had internet access during my undergrad study but it was still not as important as it is these days. I remember how I was feeling dizzy when I was looking for the books in the shelves. The smell of the books in the libraries still reminds me my old days. The ease of reaching information brings comfort to new generation. It might be even helping to fasten learning. But I still feel like I need the books on my hands. I still need to take notes with an actual pencil. That makes me feel “Yes! I am learning”. My personal experience is I always learn less from online courses.
First of all, let me whole-heartedly agree with your final statement! I work in K12 education. Teaching students how to be good researchers is one of the most important skills students can acquire and – in my opinion – more important than any single course’s breadth of content. We have to teach that skill and need to do a better job than we currently do.
Second, I’d caution about painting with too broad a brush when saying library stuff is accurate and Internet stuff is iffy. I won’t elaborate other than to provide this article: https://www.nature.com/articles/438900a which does the elaboration for me.
I saw a post recently from a younger student that said something like this:
“Yo, mad respect to all you college graduates who went through school without Google.”
I laughed, and then I really thought about it. Wow, Google, as well as the ability to search online, has absolutely revolutionized education. You can get information in a matter of seconds. What is different, though, is the validity of such information. The general rule of thumb is that the library has good stuff, right? That same rule cannot be applied to the internet.
I think it is imperative that educators in this new realm teach research tactics in the 21st century. Learning how to decipher the good from the bad is something that all students need help with, especially if they are new to research.
Those are great points you make about the cost versus our perception of the necessity. I would look at it from a cost-benefit standpoint. If a school like Virginia Tech didn’t deliver Internet service that meets the expectations of students how would that impact the perception of school’s quality? I think the benefits have to go beyond just the cost but also to how the infrastructure supports the foundational work of the school. I think it would be an interesting research topic for someone in that field.
You raised an issue here that I haven’t seen yet elsewhere. What is the impact of required fiber and bandwidth to an institution’s bottom line? It would be fascinating to see the relative cost of technology adoption, maintenance, and upgrades as a part of the university budget over time. Is technology today more expensive, and how does that impact student fees, research overhead, and capital projects? Strong wifi is basically viewed as a right, but there are real costs in keeping up with ever-increasing demand.
Thanks for your thoughts. In response to your K12 question, many schools – including the one I work in – provides laptops, Chromebooks, or tablets to students for use every day in class. Students are asked to be responsible for bringing their charged device with them to school every day. I believe there is an online college that runs a TV commercial saying that part of your tuition covers the cost of a laptop and/or tablet.
As you said, the expectation has changed in a pretty sudden way, but not explicitly in a top-down approach (at least in the majority of higher education). It will be interesting to see if the explicit expectation catches up with the reality seen in most classrooms and if that is an appropriate expectation placed on students by college policy.