The internet and education

When I entered college, the internet was nothing like it was today. HLS has us manage our courses online, adding and dropping classes and on-campus interviews, viewing assignments and countless other things on the internet. In contrast, the internet was barely used by my undergraduate school. When we entered, the dorm computers were still DOS-based and we had no college domain. We had 25-character email addresses with funny symbols and the word ‘bitnet’ in there somewhere, stemming off of CUNY’s domain. We did expand computer labs and have web access (and abbreviated email addys) by the time I graduated, but the extent of the usage for academic purposes was still limited a single professor who had a website for one class.

This is not a tech-backward college – it was the first on the NYC area to have a campus set up for wifi access. It was just a different time. To give some perspective, this was about a year after Yahoo was started, and a scant few months after it was known as “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”.

The computer labs were used for gaming, for e-mail, for ICQ and, mostly, for typing papers. (There wasn’t much quality research to be had on the internet.) And as to the latter, it was quite often a source of distress. Windows would crash. A lot. I know that some kids today think they know crashes- they don’t know crashes.

It was almost guaranteed that if you stayed on a computer long enough, it would freeze for no apparent reason, and nothing short of a hard reboot would get that mouse moving again. Sometimes it would just shut off. In these days before AutoRecover, AutoSave was our best friend. If we had accidentally logged onto a computer that didn’t have autosave engaged – disaster. Cumulatively, I probably lost 20 pages worth of papers. When you have just spent hours writing a three page paper (this was also a time when that seemed like a lot, somehow) to have it vanish was heartbreak. I am sure the rewriting process managed to deliver a better finished product, but that was no consolation at the time.

I think that is part of the reason why I have a different philosophy on technology than some of my young classmates, for whom Word was always more than an oft-crashing word processor. I still often take notes by hand – I am not dependent on computers. And yet I am anxious to use technology in many ways and study it – it is still something exciting to me because I don’t take it for granted and can remember a time before it. That background delivers an apparent contrast of shunning and embracing technology at the same time.

One Response to “The internet and education”

  1. My Journey Through Cyber One » Journal Says:

    […] Considering the nature of the course, it is likely that the url for this blog will suffice. I have come a long way since undergrad. […]