#3: CommTech and Education

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In elementary school, I remember using the colorful, round iMacs pictured above. By the time I graduated high school, we had a lab full of the latest iMac computers all of which were huge and sleek.

As Professor Esrock stated, communication technologies like computers and the Internet have been an integral part of millennials’ education. And in the future, the role of communication technologies in education will only increase.

Concerning my experience with commtechs in education, I think they have greatly facilitated learning. Things like the Internet and computers have spurred a wider array of classes being offered. Now there are classes focused solely on mastering use of communication technologies. In fact, my high school was a business and technology school that had a student help desk.

A con that I have seen, however, is the these same technologies can be used as a crutch and hinder education. For example, teachers can use online programs as a crutch without putting in as much effort as traditional education. Same goes for students. Students can fall into the trap of relying too heavily on the Internet for answers, in effect ‘taking the easy way out.’

Finding a good balance is a responsibility of the educator and the student. There is nothing wrong with using the internet, computers, or cellphones to help supplement lecture. The relationship needs to be complementary on both ends.

There are now hybrid courses which combine Internet lectures or activities with in-class teaching. A lot of language courses do this. I am currently enrolled in a hybrid course for Arabic. This course is four credits versus three due to the online component. Hybrid courses represent a balance that universities are testing out.

Another commtech that has been slowly emerging as a medium of choice is the e-book. Anyone with a computer screen can access e-books which have many benefits.

E-books tend to be less expensive and better for the environment. They are paperless so there is less waste as a result. In addition, if they are part of a cloud service you can access your books from any device with an Internet connection. Or log in to an account that has your ebooks saved. E-books are easier to search through and the devices for them are relatively inexpensive.

So why aren’t they in the hands of every college student?

Again, I will refer to the cost vs benefit equation. The cost for a e-reader can be much less than the cost of a physical textbook. It’s easier to search for specific passages or quotes and e-readers are better for the environment. According to this theory, e-books should be the hottest mode of reading.

However consumers just aren’t used to them.E-textbooks are a cheaper option, but students remain skeptical. Many people, myself included, find it better to have a physical  book. It’s easier to take notes and write sticky notes. They also strain your eyes less whenever you’re studying late at night. This is a case where individual preferences may outweigh price/benefit calculations. In the USA Today article, many students shared their varying opinions on e-books and their future. Some people have really caught on to e-books and use them regularly. Others see the benefits but want to keep traditional.

College courses are also straying from the traditional. Recently, Massive Open Online Course(s), or MOOC(s), have emerged as an innovative change to the traditional lecture. MOOCs are offered by edX, a MIT-Harvard University nonprofit, free of charge to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. These MOOCs have been raising questions as to just how much they will change higher education.

In “How Online Learning is Reinventing College,” the article identifies the candid question behind the camera which is where is this all leading?

I agree that MOOCs are a great way to reach people that universities might not otherwise engage. In the words of Horace Mann, education is the great equalizer. Now, students in under-served areas can access MIT courses for free. Hopefully, this will have a positive effect on literacy and math rates across the county. Of course this cannot count as the sole solution to education reform but it can be one of many.

Some people think universities will go bankrupt as a result of online learning. Others think it cheapens that value of a degree. Still others are cautiously adopting this technology in their own courses. Like any technology before it, it is hard to predict the success of MOOCs.

I think there is a valid point in the article that digital learning can’t provide the intimacy of the classroom or the social experience of the campus. I think again this is another example of individual preferences outweighing predictions. A student who is not engaged on campus and doesn’t get involved may as well take an online course. But a student who is active on campus may find it better to stick to traditional courses.

There are many questions still left unanswered regarding the future of MOOCs and e-books. Years later we might look back and see that they did fulfill predictions made today. But in our ever-changing now, it continues to be extremely difficult to tell just how successful these technologies will be.

 

 

 

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Event Review: Dia de los Muertos

Today, the Latin American Hispanic Student Organization and Student Activities Board finally had all their hard work pay off.

The Red Barn looked lively and colorful with all the decorations in place. There was a face painting and sugar skull decorating station, a live band, and lots of food. A good thirty minutes before the official start time, a line was already forming out the door.

Once the event began, it was a nonstop line of people. I was helping serve food and did not see a break until two hours in. El Nopal catered the event with fajitas, rice, beans, chips, and salsa. LAHSO also provided pan de muerto, a sweet bread roll traditionally made in Mexico.

The altar was beautifully put together and allowed for people to write the names of lost loved ones. I appreciated the social justice theme added and thought it was a powerful addition to the altar.

The event also had a short presentation about the history of Dia de los Muertos and its significance in Latin America.

Kentucky All Stars provided a variety of upbeat Spanish music throughout the night. Although, not exclusively Mexican music, they definitely made it fun. A fantastic addition to this year’s event was Mexico Lindo, a Mexican dance group consisting of women who dance to traditional Mexican music.

UofL alumni Luis Arduz also added to the event with a salsa dance lesson that people of all backgrounds could enjoy.

It was great to see all kinds of people at the event. Everyone got to get a taste of the holiday as well as exposure to Mexican culture.

All in all, Dia de los Muertos got a good representation at the University of Louisville. Well over a hundred students were able to enjoy music, food, and get a glimpse of another culture.

The event was definitely another success for LAHSO and hopefully they will continue the momentum with next semester’s big event – Carnaval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Reflection on Dying-In

University of Louisville students held a die-in today at noon to protest police brutality and honor the victims murdered by police.

I first saw the names of the victims on the bulletin boards. The names covered the entire board. Why is that something people don’t see as troubling? How can we be okay when so many people have died that their names can cover an entire wall? How can anyone insist there is no problem?

The Student Activities Center was a powerful sight. There were people lined up all the way down past the ramp. snapchat-5367938220436981105

My friend and I joined after our class. We hadn’t thought about what we would do exactly. I thought about all of the times I saw lives being taken on camera. I thought about the anger and the grief for them and their families.

We joined our peers in lying down. It was moving to see that other people immediately followed. We all didn’t know each other but we were connected by a cause.

It was oddly peaceful lying down on the concrete. Students would walk by, some silent, others going about normally. I could see some were uncomfortable.

This wasn’t about being comfortable. For me, it was about being taken outside of the college bubble. It was about remembering those that died at the hands of police. It was not about my comfort. It was about Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner, Oscar Grant, Korryn Gaines, and so many others.

It was about the lack of justice. The anger and fear that the Black community face on a daily basis. It was about those who could no longer feel peace.

I hope that this event continues to foster conversations. I hope that we don’t forget this powerful moment. Because how many more? How many more innocent lives will be taken to show America that the racism in this country has been and still is lethal?

If you don’t see the reason for the protest than I suggest you do your research. Ignorance is no longer an excuse when you have the world at your fingertips.

As for the University of Louisville, I am so proud that this happened on my campus. I am proud of the students who organized the protest. It was a touching and defining moment in UofL’s history to show that Black Lives Matter and that our voices will be heard.