Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My turn-of-the-century education

Do you notice how fast the world is changing?

I was thinking about my college education. I went to Ricks College from 1999-2001, so I haven't even been out of college for a full decade. But even so, I know that kids in college right now are having a much different experience than I had only a few years ago.

When I was in school, hardly anyone had a cell phone. There was no texting. If I wanted to leave a message for a cute boy, I would go to his apartment and write a note on his whiteboard. Almost every apartment had a whiteboard for this purpose. Do you think college kids have phased that practice out? It would kind of be a shame.

My classmates and I carried floppy discs with us everywhere we went. I never did my homework on the same computer twice, so I had to save everything to that precious little disc. If I would have tried to e-mail all those documents to myself, it would have shut down my Hotmail account. Anything over about 10k was a pretty massive file... back in the day.

And speaking of computers, I remember going to the library and finding that every computer in the lab was in use. I would pull up a chair and wait. At my apartment, I had an unreliable dial-up internet connection with a giant, boxy desktop computer, but if I needed to get something done between classes I was at the mercy of the computer lab and its occupants.

When it was time for the computer lab to close, the library would start playing really loud, obnoxious music to get everyone to leave.

Today my alma mater has a "laptop initiative" so that every student will have their own laptop. I'm sure it's much more convenient and I can definitely see the benefit, but does it take some of the charm out of being part of a college community? Maybe it doesn't. It's just so different than what I knew.

One thing that I hopefully helped phase out was the giant video cameras that the broadcasting students used for our school projects. I think news agencies still use large video cameras, but these things were GINORMOUS! And probably about 30 pounds, resting on your shoulder. They used VHS tapes, so I'm assuming they are mostly gone by now, but I could be way off. I did my part to help phase those out, tripping going up the stairs between the library and the MC while I was carrying one. My bad.

And you should have seen the archaic equipment we used to edit videos. It was housed in the Kirkham Building, which is long gone now (sniff, sniff), so I imagine they have upgraded to more current technology. In fact, I keep trying to find Google images of some of this stuff, but it seems to be ancient history.

When I was in school, there was no Facebook. GASP! In fact, if I wanted to flirt with someone, I had to do it in person. There was no tagging pictures. We had to actually look through each other's real-life, printed photo albums.

And I almost forgot about the excitement of taking my rolls of film to Walmart! Double prints please! Going to pick them up was such a thrill, because I didn't always know what the pictures would be (especially if I accidentally left my camera with sneaky people). No one had a digital camera yet, so we had to be careful not to waste film. And sometimes that meant one roll would have pictures from two or three months. By the time they were developed, I had mostly forgotten what they were going to be.

The thing is, we felt like we were living and learning in a technologically advanced time. And we were. But things just keep changing and it seems like time is on turbo. What will the world be like when my kids are in college?