A mis-connection with technology

A fluke attempt at a Skype lecture can reveal the limitations of technology and the need for low-tech alternatives.
By
  • Hyunji Kim, University student
November 19, 2012

As digital technology develops, the atmosphere of  the classroom has fundamentally changed along with it. In class, every professor brings their computer and uses it to show some information from the Internet. The black board has nearly disappeared in the 21st century. Professors press the play button instead of writing with a piece of chalk. Students are getting used to watching a big screen and taking notes.

But what I have recently experienced is a bit more surprising: I watched a professor’s lecture from another university through Skype.

My professor was out of class one day, so she introduced a professor who stood in for her. He was a professor at a university in Maryland. Unfortunately, he could not come to our school to give the class lecture that day. As a result, we met him via Skype and our teaching assistant turned over the Power Point by following the professor’s lecture.

Taking a class via Skype was awkward, but it seemed very similar to an offline class. However, our class Internet connection became weak, and Skype was disconnected for more than five times during our 75-minute class. We kept waiting until the Internet connected again. The entire process was very annoying. While the class was going on, students could not focus on our Skype class, and some of them simply left the room.

Finally, the Skype class finished after 75 minutes, but our first attempt at a Skype lecture was not successful. Though technology is developing and beginning to coordinate with the classroom, it has its limitations. Many blame teachers for not implementing technology within their teaching, but sometimes a more analog, low-tech approach can be used. When a teacher is not in a classroom, a substitute or simply canceling class can be a better use of everyone’s time. While my experience may have been a fluke amongst other attempts at Skype lectures, it certainly interrupted our classroom.

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