Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Outdated



Remember how I mentioned that I was going back to school? Well it has recently come to my attention that my former education is woefully out of date. When I entered my years of higher learning over a decade ago, things were very different than they are today. My very first year of college, my roommates and I had one computer that we shared between the six of us (it belonged to my twin roommates), and about halfway through the year we had a dial-up internet connection and a juno email account that I vaguely remember checking once a day or once every two days for a note from my then boyfriend. That was about the only thing I remember using the internet for back then, but of course, anyone who has used dial up knows why. I can still hear that series of beeps and dial tones in my head as I waited patiently (ok, I was never really that patient about it) to be connected. Of course, we had to wait for the other roommates to get off of the phone, and if we were feeling polite, we'd ask everyone for permission to use the line, and there was never anything more irritating then when you wanted to use the phone and someone was on the internet. It's hard now to imagine using the internet for only a short period of time and not having it already connected and waiting for you.

That first year we had to register for our classes via telephone, and we used a large book of classes with the corresponding codes. We stayed up until midnight to register our schedules fighting with what felt like a million other freshmen who were also calling at the same time. Busy signals abounded, and it was not uncommon to wait hours to get it all sorted out. Not unlike buying tickets to a concert at the time. Once we registered for our classes, if we wanted to make changes to them we had to fill out an actual physical card using our actual handwriting and get an actual signature from the professor. Then we had to use those two long things that dangle below our waists to actually walk it over to the admin building to hand it in.

When we had to buy our books we went to the campus bookstore and waited in line to flip through a large book filled with dot-matrix printed lists of all of the classes offered that semester. When we found ours, we had to write the books we needed on a piece of paper that was really too small to write legibly on, and essentially it was a huge pain in the neck. But we didn't know any better.

When we went to class, we took notebooks-- you know the kind that are filled with paper, not microchips. We hand wrote our notes with ball-point pens, and we received the syllabus and any other important information directly from our professors via copied pieces of paper. Our professors used overhead projectors and the whiteboard behind them to convey ideas. When we wanted to do research, we went to the library, and when we needed to type our papers out, we went to a computer lab that was shared by everyone else in the apartment complex. When we had a presentation to do for a class, we made posters and flyers and used other physical visual aids.

I was among the first of my friends to own a cell phone (a precautionary measure from my parents). Its battery was bigger than the actual phone part, and lasted for less than a half hour of talk time. I did not leave it on to receive phone calls, and I only used it for emergencies (you know, like when my roommates were on the land line, and I just had to call my friend to tell him how irritating my roommates were (No, not you, you were my favorite roommate, I'm talking about that other one. yeah, the annoying one). I pulled the antenna out of the phone to make calls, and when it rang, it didn't play the latest overly manufactured hip hop tune. I did not carry it around with me, when I wasn't using it (and I only used it rarely), it sat dormant in a special place in the room I shared. If you had asked me to text you back then I would have given you a puzzled look and then corrected your grammar/word usage (actually I'm not that rude, I would have done it in my head). When a guy asked you out on a date, he would use the land line and likely your roommate would have answered and known his intention long before you did. We wrote our deepest secrets in hard bound journals (which were sometimes read by nefarious roommates who refused to mind their own business), and we wrote actual letters to our friends back home and filled them with stickers and drawings and pictures developed from the photo shop.

Last year when I applied to BYU for the umpteenth time, I did so mainly on the computer with the exception of a few things that needed to be mailed in. I registered for my classes online without a class catalogue placed in my lap. When I went to buy my books, rather than a table full of ugly and awkward dot matrix books, I was greeted by a wall of sexy flat screened computers asking me if I'd like for them to print out my book list (why, as a matter of fact I would, thank you). Sure enough, all I had to do was log in and out printed a beautiful and readable list. On my first day of classes, I walked into a newly remodeled room with a class computer attached to the podium and outlet portals between each seat. As I watched the other (much younger) students meander in and choose up seats, I noticed them taking out laptops of all sizes and then they plugged them in. I felt so archaic with my three ring binder and ballpoint pen, and it took a while to get used to the clackity clack of everyone's keyboard as they took notes. It also took a while to get used to ignoring their screens as they checked their emails and surfed the web during lectures. My Professor used a powerpoint presentation to show us ancient works of art, and whenever she needed a picture of something she didn't have in the presentation, she opened up her browser and googled it. Instead of handing out our syllabus, she casually mentioned that it, along with a works list would be found in the course materials section of the blackboard. Oh. Riiiiight, the blackboard. (what??) Knowing full well that we as a generation are guilty of assigning the titles of obsolete technologies to newer and better technologies in an effort to make everyone feel comfortable with change, I figured that "blackboard" didn't refer to those black things that hung on the walls of my elementary school classrooms. Come to find out, there's a whole world on the website of my school that I wasn't using just full of information. This is the blackboard. Ok, lesson learned. Next came the class presentation which I had to make a powerpoint for. I have seen powerpoint presentations, and that is where my experience ends. We also have to do a group paper which involves research. I have forgotten how to do this in even my time let alone how to do it now without using wikipedia.

All of this leads me to conclude that I had better finish my education and soon this time or I may be fitting my eyes for microchipped contacts that will allow me to view my lecture from home. Although that does seem to have certain advantages...

13 comments:

Kara said...

Yeah, it is funny how fast things have changed. Yet, there are always certain things that always stay the same.

Diane said...

Ali! What are you going to get your degree in? Or have you shared that, and somehow I missed that posting? What a great experience you are going to have. Good for you!

Melanie said...

I graduated 5 years ago and I amazed at how much has changed since then. The one thing that is still the same-campus cafeteria food. Honestly though, why would you go there?

Adam and Bri said...

ha! i loved this.

times, they are a-changing.

Juli said...

Okay, I didn't know about most of this! I'm officially panicked about the prospect of trying to further my education in a few years.

Doesn't it make you wonder what it will be like when our kids are in college?!

Jill said...

Congrats on going back! You are amazing. It has been so long for me I know I would just sit there and feel reaaallllly out of touch.

Adam said...

Great post Ali. As one of the newbies, I can't imagine registering for classes over the phone or looking through shelves and shelves of publications to do a research paper, or doing some of the other things you mentioned. The Internet is really a miracle in that way.

Good luck with your classes! Let me know if you need anything.

Erin said...

Oh I remember very well how things used to be. I still remember the first time I ever visited the internet...junior year of BYU. I didn't have an email address until after I graduated and didn't get a cell phone until 4 years after that. Crazy.

Chocolates for Breakfast said...

it is amazing how times have changed...we won't even go back to when I was at BYU!? we watched "Sleepless in Seattle" the other night (so cute!) and I was just fying at the hair and clothes and the telephones and the minimal use of the computer...just thinking if they did a remake how different it would be?! good luck with this adventure...WOW!

Teri said...

wow you're brave!! Hope its fun and not all stress!! I loved school so I think I would love it!!!

heather said...

im gettting anxiety just reading this and even thinking of going back to school. scary.

heather said...

im gettting anxiety just reading this and even thinking of going back to school. scary.

kand said...

Loved the post. You can imagine that I am feeling really really outdated!!

Aunt D