Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back to the classroom—the time draws nigh

It has been seven years since I last taught at Christopher Newport University. In a few weeks, I'll return to the classroom. A lot has changed. The campus has been radically transformed by a $500 million capital improvement plan, symbolized by the I. M. Pei designed Ferguson Center for the Arts, a facility so gorgeous it will knock your socks off. The student body has changed—adding a couple hundred points, more-or-less, to its freshman class average SAT score. And teaching has changed—for example I've been told—or perhaps forewarned—that lectures must include more multi-media content.

I was talking to some students at an alumnae party. One of them had this story. He was taking an exam that was open book, and also open laptop (in itself a new concept for me.) To find a relevant entry in his textbook, he searched on Google books and found the desired page. This was faster, he claimed, than the old way: using the book's index. It's a new world.

I have also learned that one of the more serious problems facing universities is excessive game-playing, over the internet, in the dorms. The problem is especially acute for male students. A very difficult problem to solve, because students want to make sure there is open internet access in the dorms before they sign on the dotted line. It's Pandora's Box.

And here is something else that I didn't have to deal with before.

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