College Technology Then Versus Now
Hitting the books has a completely different meaning before modern technological advancements. If my parents wanted to research something when they were in college in the 70’s, they’d have to go to the library, find the appropriate book in the library after finding its location by manually flipping through the card catalog and then find what they needed. When I was in college in the mid 2000’s, I could use the electronic card catalog to find an actual physical book, or do a keyword search online and find more information than I could ever need. And my brother, who is now in college in the mid 2010’s, barely has to utilize the library at all.
It’s been an amazing transformation even in the few years since I left school. Online textbooks, e-readers, tablets and even smart phones were on the horizon but hardly a tool we utilized in college. I was one of very few students who took notes on my laptop, and that was only after my first year or so. Some professors didn’t even allow us to use laptops for notes, and the difference between the quality of notes I could take on my laptop versus written in a paper notebook was huge. I could be more organized and detailed, as well as add in notes in the appropriate areas as I reviewed them afterwards. How envious my parents were of that luxury, as they still have their notebooks packed to the brim of class notes.
Every book I had was an overpriced hard copy, and I think one had a CD with bonus content, how exciting. We would flip through, mark pages with post it notes, and try not to damage them so at the end of the semester we could return them for a fraction of what we paid for them. Now, students can’t even share books, as while they still cost the same, but are mostly digital versions. You buy a onetime use code in order to read the content, as if you actually will, and then when the semester is over, the digital book disappears into the depths of your tablet never to be seen again.
And online classes open up a college education to people who may not have been otherwise able to get a degree. People who work full time, have children, or can’t afford to be near a campus that has the degrees they want are all given an opportunity to earn an education. People from all walks of life can join together and learn. Video chatting programs also let actual classrooms broadcast their lesson to students located off campus.
Technology has made a difference outside of the classroom on college campuses as well. Socialization has undergone a huge transformation. Now you can text or message a friend and immediately find out where to meet them for lunch, whereas before mobile devices plans were made in advance. Campus events used to be advertised by word of mouth and posters, and now there are email blasts and Facebook events. And said posters that were once created by literally cutting and pasting papers onto other papers can now be created on a computer in moments and distributed electronically within seconds.
These advancements have opened up a world of information to students, giving them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have had. We may sometimes take it for granted, but as long as we recognize what a benefit it is, it can continually help to enrich the college experience. It will be interesting to see what technology grows into next as advancements continue.