Technology and this generation's fascination/obsession with it.
I have been "interviewed" twice this past week by students who are researching the implications of today's technology on today's students. One group is doing their senior project for Journalism and they spent over an hour with me - they recorded our conversation and they were full of questions about what I thought the impact was on college students today who are, according to recent reports, "using some form of media 7 hours and 38 minutes a day" - the other student is actually writing a book and he was looking for information on how social networking MAY be impacting students' interactions with each other. As I shared my own enthusiasm for today's technology and acknowledged that I Skype, text, Facebook, email, use eCollege, construct PowerPoints for class, pilot new classroom technology such as Tegrity (this allows me to record my classes and it captures everything I share with the class on my computer - I use it to record student presentations, guest speakers, etc. and when students or I use PowerPoint presentations, Tegrity "captures" all of it at the same time) - I also have a "paperless" classroom which means that after 40+ years of carrying student papers home to grade, it is all done today on my tablet computer. Our discussions were excellent and I was, as usual, impressed with the maturity and thoughtfulness of the students. They had researched their topics and seemed willing to listen to someone "older" :) discuss technology. One of the things we agreed on is that technology itself is not the problem, when/if there is a problem it is in how that technology is used or abused. Someone who spends hours and hours each day on FaceBook will most likely have other issues in their lives and their grades will suffer from that "obsession." Students or anyone (parents and grandparents are now on FaceBook) who uses social networking to take the place of one-on-one - face-to-face interactions will someday come to regret that. Many years ago, when new students arrived on campus in September our computer systems were shut down as they were infected with viruses - it took several days for our IT folks to be able to fix the problems - it was fascinating to watch how so many people went into panic mode because they couldn't "connect' with family/friends. I remember when I was finishing my doctoral dissertation and "word processing" was first introduced. someone suggested that I utilize that new technology instead of having a "typist" type each page for me at the exorbitant price of $.25 per page - yup, that was just a quarter. At the time I was NOT willing to "trust" my dissertation to any darned computer :) I laugh now as I get impatient when my computer doesn't boot up quick enough - how times have changed........
Things on campus continue at a steady and busy pace. Papers, projects, presentations are a daily event in class. Seniors are encouraged to work with our Career Services folks to make sure that they all have an up-to-date resume and the three career counselors are always willing to work with faculty or students and they provide excellent resources for the campus. Chris Clary will be coming into my Practicum class in two weeks to talk with my seniors (again) and to check in with them on the progress they have made in their post-graduation plans. Prof. Pat Standen is a member of our Philosophy Department and an outstanding educator. Pat was a 16 year old, two or three sport high school athlete when an automobile accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. As he realized that there literally were NO activities available for someone who USED to be an athlete he began his own journey and now he kayaks, plays sled-hockey, skis, holds the record for the Burlington City Marathon for adaptive athletes and he is about to take up the biathlon next week since he has always been interested in this but never has tried it. He is the founder of EDAA - Eastern Disabled Athletes Association. Pat came to speak with my Sports Psychology class on Thursday and it was amazing to see how quickly he became a part of my class. The students were intrigued, embarrassed (that they didn't know more about adaptive sports already) and full of questions. Pat has such an honest and comfortable teaching style that we worked very well together. A couple of my students know Pat because he is the Faculty Mentor for our Men's Hockey team and several of our men and women ice hockey players had assisted Pat when his organization put on a sled hockey event at Cairn's Arena. I have seen Pat play sled-hockey and it is truly an amazing sport to watch. I had Face-booked Pat during a recent Sunday afternoon Winter X Game run up to the Olympics because I had seen ski cross racing with adaptive skiers - he knows several of these competitors and so was able to also address that with my class. He and I agree that those of us who are TAB's (temporarily able-bodied) have an obligation to better educate ourselves on issues such as adaptive sports because we all know or will all know someone who has a disability that will restrict their ABILITIES - our awareness now makes us responsible for educating ourselves and those around us.
We have a long weekend starting next Saturday and I will be heading out West to visit some of my former students who live in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Reno. It will be great to see them all and I am also looking forward to some great skiing while I am there. While our neighbors to the South have certainly received a great deal of snow the past 48 hours, WE have received NONE. I know it is useless to ask them to ship it up here but hopefully this week will bring us more snow in Vermont. At least I know that they have a lot out West as my friends in Incline Village - outside of Lake Tahoe tell me that they received 7 FEET a week ago - 7 FEET - of course, their normal temperatures are also around 30 degrees so the snow isn't much of an issue - I will hopefully post some pictures on my blog upon my return. In the meantime, take good care, be well, and as always, PLEASE keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers.