Monday, September 12, 2011

How Technology Has Completely Altered the Post-Secondary Experience

I am going back to school.

Or is it, I have gone back to school?

I am once again going to school?

Whatevvvvvvveerrer. Pffffhhhhttt....

Point is, post-secondary education is not how I remembered it and here's why:

1. Everything is different.

The chairs have gotten smaller. Truly, they have. Or my ass has gotten bigger, which can't be so.

Either that, or students have gotten smaller. They've definitely gotten younger.

 At Loyalist College, they're like, 12. I kid you not. In fact, on Day One a pretty little blond in my class mentioned her hometown, which is next to mine. Jokingly, I said that I probably went to high school with her parents, as I'm old enough to be her mother.

Turns out the joke's on me because after quizzing her, I'm pretty sure I knew her dad, many, many years ago. Meep!

2. Technology RULES!

And I don't mean that in a good way. Well, not entirely, anyway.

The cool bit:

Most of my professors upload their lecture notes to something called "LMS" which is essentially a giant, electronic cheat sheet. Connected to the college's website, LMS contains my schedule, my grades, keeps track of assignments handed in, handed back and those pending. It features lecture notes, study guides, fun little "discussions" on a class-specific message board AND there's even a live-chat option.

It's a lot like Facebook, if Facebook were a message board and we got marked for logging on.

So, if I doze off during class (due to my advanced age) I can easily find out what I missed by logging on to LMS later. Later meaning after 8pm, when the kids are sleeping, lunches are made and laundry has at least been hurled into the basement. (Not the "after-the-pub-and-hookup" later enjoyed by some of my classmates. No, no...I'm not jealous. I'm not. I'm just saying...)

The not-so-cool bit:

Phones. Oh. my. GAWD.

Everyone - and I mean, everyone, has a cell phone. And not an ancient, flip-top-gizmo like the one I last week was forced to retrieve from the depths of the junk drawer, in case the Reds' school calls.

No, sir.

 I mean, mini-computer phones, with keyboards and cameras and coffee machines and something called "Angry Birds" built right in.

Amazing little gadgets.

Now, I'll admit that I'm a Luddite and that a classmate had to show me how to turn the phone's ringer to "vibrate", but THIS kind of slavish devotion to tote-able technology is beyond me.

To steal a phrase? It's poppycock.

There is no way that anything of dire importance has occured during the two hours that we were in Psych. Memories of 9/11 aside, there is nothing that should compel any student to be available to the outside world at. all. times.

 So, turn the damned phone OFF!

And stop texting because even though you've turned off the sound, I can still hear the tapping of your fingernails on the keys and it's driving me craaazzzzyyy!!

Example: Right, smack in the middle of one professor's request that we turn phones off for her class, a cell-phone rang. That old-fashioned party-line ring, too. Loud. Obnoxious. Jarring.

(A sound that the phone's owner has likely never heard in its original form, unless visiting a museum. I wish I was kidding.)

Well, that student didn't even bat an eyelash. She merely reached into her purse without apology and - I assumed - turned off her phone. The professor continued, only to be interrupted a second time by the same phone, ringing! Again, the (12-year-old) student simply reached into her purse, utterly non-plussed.

Ask me if it happened a third time. Go on. Ask me.


 Can you freakin' believe it? THREE times that stupid cell-phone rang. DURING ONE CLASS!

And when the phones aren't stirring up lecture halls, they're being tap-tap-tapped upon as students snake their way through crowded hallways in between classes.

In the Tim Horton's line-up, no one (except me, as I always forget that I even OWN a phone until someone asks about the Reds and then I guiltily fire it up to see if there's a message) is without their phone. Side-by-side, but utterly disengaged from one another, students text rapidly, without looking up, without pausing. One-handed even.

It baffles me, this constant need to remain in contact, technologically. Even as I recognize how easy it is to become addicted to social media (Hello??? I started dreaming in 140 characters about a week after joining Twitter), this twitchy NEED  is...sad. And sort of creepy.

Seriously. When you're 12, what could you POSSIBLY have to text/tweet to your roommate that cannot wait three hours? Your BFF will likely not, like, die if you don't answer her right. this. second.

Do I sound like my mother? Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I'm recalling hearing her voice, "What could you possibly have to say to one another that you need to spend all hours on the phone, when you should be doing homework or something productive with your time?"

In any case, I feel a little better now, getting that off my chest. Thanks for that, dear readers. I really want you to know that despite my little rant, I'm positively delighted to be learning again, wandering the hallowed halls of knowledge, making friends and fitting in...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I really should study and to do so, I'll need to make some room for  the LMS site. (It's so weird, but once I've opened up Twitter, FB, my email addresses and this blog tab, there's not enough space left for the important sites - like the college "Blackboard Learning System" one.)

Oh, and I need to charge my phone for class tomorrow...

And you? Are you addicted to technology? Social media? This blog?
Share your secrets - and your best study tips -  here!


  1. I'm addicted to your humour and your sensibilities. And I'm living vicariously through you on your back-to-school journey. I love college campuses!

  2. Well, thanks, Leanne! I am actually enjoying myself immensely, although Anatomy looks as though it might be a challenge. It's a good thing I married a chemist - he demonstrated stuff using dinky cars...and I GOT it!

    Thanks for reading!


  3. Last year, in the middle of a lecture I was giving to my class at Durham, a phone went was mine :)

  4. Poppycock. That made my day. Cool you're back at school. Texting/cell phone usage is interesting. We have so many means of communicating these days, yet it seems that we've never communicated less. Weird.

  5. My mom works on a college campus and when the sidewalks are flooded with the students coming to/going from class EVERYONE is on some form of electronic device whether it's a cell phone or an mp3. It floors me. When I went to college I had a "bag phone" that only went in my car during long journeys home.

    A few weeks ago I was at a party - kids running through sprinkler, parents chatting and noshing - and a mom my age was typing away on her blackberry the whole time. When I got home and pulled up my FB I could see that she had been chatting on FB the whole time!! How insane is it to go to a party, ignore everyone around you, and chat on FB! There will soon be a 12 step for technology addiction.

    So excited for you and your back-to-school adventure! :)

  6. Greg, that's hilarious! How did the students react?

    Chase, lovely to see you! Isn't poppycock a delicious word? And you're so right - with all these communication tools at our disposal, it seems we've lost the "art" of communication, somewhere along the way. Or have we?

    Annie, it cracks me up that your mum has a Blackberry. Though, as I must curb my own addiction to Facebook regularly, I get it. Sadly, I get it.

  7. I love it! Liz, you're a wonderful writer. I feel like I'm right there with you! Fun times!!! : )


  8. We had a good laugh. I try to be reasonable with the phone issue - turn off phones during lectures, no ringers allowed ever, and never take a call in my class - otherwise they can text as long as they don't distract other students.

    My biggest phone worry is being trampled by hordes of texting students in the halls...I'm a small man you know :)

  9. Thanks for such kind words, Pam. I'm glad you'rea long for the ride! :)

    Greg, you may be small, but you're mighty. Right?

  10. OMG! Laughing so hard! Congrats on going back to school. I'm sure you'll have no trouble keeping up with the 'kids' and they'll have you texting, one handed, behind your back in no time!

  11. Um...actually I DO need to be available at all times. It's kinda part of my job. Sorry. I get your frustration - there is a time and place for everything and these kids are going to learn hard lessons when they lose jobs because they can't pay attention during a meeting. But I have to defend the technology a little bit. It has made my job so much easier and has opened up so many ways for me to reach people both in emergency and non-emergency situations. CAN I live without it? Absolutely. Do I WANT to? Ummmm....... Angry Birds IS kinda cool........

  12. I love that I made you laugh, Elena! Stick around to see if I cave and learn to text...

    Dolphin, your job requires that you're available at all times. I GET that. And I'm not saying that the technology doesn't serve an awesome purpose, especially for people whose job is made easier/better/safer because of it.

    But these are college *students*, inSIDE a school to LEARN. They are NOT responsible for human lives, the stock market, or (generally) capable of either, in or out of school. Therefore, they should not HAVE TO BE available every minute of the day.

    If you're in an important meeting, do you leave your phone on so that "Radio Star" plays when someone calls? (Sorry, can't remember what your phone does play. Picked what it might...) or do you set it to vibrate, so as not to disturb those around you?

    When on a break from said important meeting, do you rush to text someone even as you rise from your seat, head to the bathroom, stand in line for a coffee? Or do you engage with everyone ELSE who's attending the meeting, hoping to learn from their experience, or take the opportunity to put a face to the email signature?

    I'm not suggesting that cell phone use in GENERAL isn't worrisome and rampant, because it IS. And I'd be an even bigger fool to suggest that college students leave their phones at home or in the car while they learn. But I don't think it's too much to ask that they put 'em away for an hour or so, for all of our sakes.

    Now, tell me more about these Angry Birds....LOL!

  13. P.S. I edited to OP to reflect my opinion that STUDENTS should not be available to the outside world at all times, not "anyone" as previously written.
    I think, Dolphin, this is where I was not clear enough and may have offended you.

    Not meant. Sorry.

  14. Liz, just curious, do you really go back to school again?
    The latest time I sat in the class, I brought my mobile into the class with me, I just changed it to silent mode but hmmm I still used it if there were some messages came in :D

    Until now, I addict to technology :D Angry birds in my mobile? I used to like it very much :D


  15. Hi Yulia!

    Yes, I am indeed, once again, a student. I'm studying Developmental Service Work at college. It's a two-year course and so far, I'm utterly smitten!

    What did you study, when you weren't checking message? ;)

  16. Not-offended-just-sayin'-DolphinSeptember 15, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Hmmmm.....Buggles ring tone....intriguing....

  17. Liz, you completely crack me up. And although I haven't plunged back into coursework, I live right next door to a huge college town. And every fall I think that, surely, the university has lowered the age of admittance. Chairs are getting smaller, college kids are getting younger, and you - sweet Liz - get to be right there in the thick of it. Enjoy!

  18. brad wants to know what i'm laughing at. you say it like it is. love it.