By Thomas Infante
I’m amazed at how my dad interacts with computers.
He still has a standard LG flip phone and uses its small screen to justify his unwillingness to answer texts. He types on a keyboard using only his index fingers. Worst of all, he types his Facebook statuses in all capital letters. When I try to teach him about the interface, he is always too impatient and, instead, resists making any technological progress.
If I behaved this way, I would fail out of school. My generation differs from my father’s simply because of the timing of our respective upbringings. As millennials grew up, computer technology was advancing so quickly that we had no choice but to adapt. If someone else my age had that much trouble using a computer, it would be difficult to get through an average day at the College.
Whether we like it or not, technology is deeply ingrained in our education. The most overt example are online components of textbooks that are common in many college courses. These online components are usually poorly designed and have problems running on certain internet browsers for seemingly no reason. Although these are very common, they are usually frustrating and by far the least helpful when it comes to actual instruction.
The way technology has truly enhanced education is through the collective resources that are accessible through the internet. Some take the form of online educators, such as Khan Academy, which produces math instructional videos that taught me algebra better than my high school teachers. Other resources, like Google Translate and Wolfram Alpha, act as super-advanced calculators and have all but trivialized certain academic subjects.
Although these resources can be used through a smartphone or computer practically anytime and anywhere, it is not at all necessary to use any of them. You don’t have to use Google to translate your entire Spanish assignment, but it makes it much easier for those who are too lazy to actually learn the material. What this means is that students who are computer savvy have an inherent advantage over those who are not.
The widespread use of such resources actively discourages most students from taking the time to do the assigned work. After all, why would you spend 20 minutes doing a complicated math problem when a computer could do it for you in a few seconds?
As computers become further involved in education, fewer students will actually fully absorb the information they are supposed to learn. This is not to suggest that students nowadays are dumber or lazier because of the internet. Rather, it has made many people very cynical regarding the methods in which they learn, especially in Liberal Learning classes that aren’t essential to their future careers.
Students have always found ways to take shortcuts in their academic careers, but the shortcuts available now are so advanced that students can circumvent much of their work and still pass the class.
After college, many students, including myself, will be thousands of dollars in debt, which they must pay off for the foreseeable future. However, many of us treat a college education like a minimum wage job to be toiled through as opposed to a privilege.
Neither of my parents attended college, so I never had a realistic idea of what it was like before I started at the College. It’s unfortunate that the prevailing attitude toward learning seems to be indifference and annoyance.
What we gain through online convenience comes at the cost of a memorable learning experience. With computers, it is easier than ever to communicate with our professors. However, for some students, actually listening to what they have to say has become a thing of the past.