Friday, November 6, 2009

What happened to college in 25 years?

As I've written before, I went back to college in January of this year.  I am now in my 3rd semester.  Until this semester my classes were all online. This is my first semester of on campus classes.   I knew it would be different than when I went to college in 1980 but I had no idea how different.  The first day of my bio class the first thing the proffessor said is NO CELL PHONES IN MY CLASS.  He was very adamant about it, said he did not want to hear a cell phone ring.  I was surprised that he had to announce that, I would think it would be the way it is.  So far I've never heard any cell phones ring but all during class students get up and walk out the door to answer their cell phones!!  The lecture is an hour and a half and people are in and out the door the whole time, I don't know if they are going to the restroom or answering cell phones or what but it's just weird, that never happened when I was in college before.  Two young girls sit behind me and they talk most of the time class is in session.  Yesterday the teacher looked up there and asked if they had a question and one of the girls said, "oh, no, sorry, we were just talking."  Apparently she didn't see anything wrong with it!
I also have an english class, it's a writing class.  It's one of those classes that is required for any major, I think everybody takes it.  The english classes I took years ago transferred but they were not the equivalent of  this one so I had to take it.  It's a writing class and we write essays.  The classrooms in this building (a rather new building) are clustered around a central room that is full of laptop computers.  When class starts we go into the room and get a laptop and when it is work time we use them to work on our essays.  When the teacher is going to talk he first asks everyone to close any open laptops and won't start until they are all closed.  Last week he forgot to do that, he just started the lesson.  I could see 3 students using their laptops while he was talking.  One of them was on her Facebook page and was chatting in the little box in the corner.  I could not see what was on the screen of one of them but he was sharing it with another student and they were definitely watching something on that computer screen and not the teacher, I have a feeling it was youtube videos.  Yesterday the same girl was chatting on Facebook and the girl sitting next to her was posting pics on her Facebook.  The teacher also caught a girl working on homework for another class.  My favorite thing is when the teacher gives a due date or an instruction of some kind and within 30 seconds someone asks the due date.  Last week he handed out a paper with information on an assignment and the due date was on the paper, sure enough less than a minute after handing it out you heard the familiar, "when's it due?"  It's also surprising how many just don't do the work.  The last paper was a research paper requiring at least 2 sources.  Our book outlines how to cite sources using the MLA format.  There is an example for every possible thing that could be cited.  Each example is broken down into sections, even spaces and periods are pointed out.  Each section is highlighted in a different color, even the spaces and periods.  Yes, this is complicated but with these examples it is very doable.  The teacher actually showed several works cited pages that were turned in with essays, there was no resemblance at all to the MLA format.  I can only wonder where they got the ideas that they were doing it right.  Our teacher said over and over and over many many many times (yes, really that many times!) that URLs are no longer given but over half the essays had them in either the in-text citations or the works cited.  The guy was soooooooo frustrated. 
I'm also surprised at how many younger students miss class all the time or they never stay for the whole class.  I didn't know it was an option to leave before class was over, you never saw this when I was in college before. 
One thing that is different now that I really like is that after taking an exam within a couple hours the grades are posted online!  The last exam was on a Thursday and during a break in english class I logged into the class website and saw my grade about 2.5 hours after taking the exam.  I like that!  I would not have liked waiting until the following Tuesday to get the exam back and find out what I got for a grade.  Emailing professors is a very easy way to ask them questions or get information.  I don't email professors very often but when I have they have responded right away. 
Well, this post is getting really long so I will wrap it up.  I could go on and on about the things I see in classes but I will stop! 
This Saturday I will become a member of Phi Theta Kappa which is the National Honor Society for community college students!! 

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