I have been a student (at a university, as opposed to a school or language class or whatever) three times in my life.
First, when I did my undergraduate degree (and started a Masters which I failed to complete).
Second, when I did a Graduate Certificate in Software Development when the Bigster was 3. I got 6 of the 8 subjects for the Grad Dip finished but then I got pregnant with Otto and I was way too sick to contemplate study.
And now, when I am starting my journey towards a Masters in Internet Studies. (Or just doing a subject to see how I like it. No pressure or anything.)
And I’m having a “how times have changed” moment.
|When I were a lass||B.O. (Before Otto)||Right now, this week|
|Education was free. At least when I was in first year.||You paid up-front for each subject.||You pay up-front for each subject but the government lends you the money to do it.|
|Staff could apply for email accounts, if they could demonstrate cause.||Students had email accounts too, based on their student number.||Students get a firstname.lastname email address automatically.|
|If you missed a lecture, you borrowed someone else’s notes.||If you missed a lecture, you borrowed someone else’s notes.||What is this “miss a lecture” of which you speak? Lectures are recorded – you watch them when you like. Actually, lectures WERE recorded – this class is taught from February’s recordings.|
|Classes (mine, anyway) were during the day. You went to them on campus.||Classes (mine, anyway) were during the evening, 5-9pm. You went to them on campus.||What is this “class” of which you speak? Discussion takes place in the online forums. Oh, and in the Learning Management System.|
|Mature Age students (anyone over 25) were horrible! I mean, they were very nice – but they always did all the reading. And everyone else’s reading, too.||I was a Mature Age Student. And yeah. Always did the reading. And participated in dicussions. OMG! I would have hated me!||I make no commitments here|
|You could usually find your friends in the Grill Room in the union building||You could occasionally find your friends in the online discussion forums that no-one really used. But never on campus, except when there were classes.||Campus is interstate. I may never go there. But there’s a Twitter hashtag for the course, and a Facebook group to join.|
|I could knock up an essay in an hour or three.||We were doing programming. Essays? What were they? 001011100||I can whip up an x-page strategy document for you if you like? But I am a wee bit anxious about the 1500 word essay requirement.|
|“Slides” were, well, slides. If you were lucky, there was an overhead projector.||“Slides” were powerpoint presentations. If you were lucky, you got a lecturer who didn’t just read them out to you for 2 hours.||Powerpoint again, I think. Now with added YouTube!|
|Most assignments were hand-written. I had my very own computer and a dot-matrix printer. And access to a laser printer because I was staff. I got bonus marks on one assignment because I used Helvetica instead of Times Roman. True story. I still have a soft spot for Helvetica (only back then, we just called it Swiss). They were, of course, submitted in hard copy.||Most assignments were submitted online.||Assignments don’t just have a due date, they have a due time as well. (And presumably a timezone of their very own). They are submitted online, of course. And some of them get uploaded to YouTube.|
|At the start of the semester, lecturers told you where their office was.||At the start of the semester, lecturers told you their email address.||At the start of the semester, staff tell you their Twitter username. And their phone number. And their email address. And other stuff about their lives.|
|I did most of my assignments at the last minute, in the middle of the night.||I did most of my assignments in plenty of time. Except the ones I did at the last minute, in the middle of the night.||Middle of the night? Most productive time of the day, I say! And with the Uni in another timezone, it’s really 2 hours earlier.|
TWENTY YEARS since I finished that first period of study. That feels like a lot of change in a little time – some clearly technology-driven, some a change in the style of the interactions. Which may be technology-influenced, especially in a course that embraces social media, but isn’t just about computing power and Internets and cables and stuff.
Sure, I knew this intellectually. Gosh Golly Goodness, I would mutter to myself, those young varmints are using The Twitter to talk about their schooling, as I rocked in a swing chair on my porch and spat tobacco. (*Note: Like so much I write, this may not be 100% true).
But it’s different now that I am doing it.