“That” Student.

Have I become “that” student?

It’s been a long time since I sat in a graduate class of any kind.  I’ve dabbled in various situations, thought long and hard about various programs to enter, but as for sitting in a traditional classroom setting as a serious student, it’s been nearly ten years. For two weeks this summer, I’ll be part of a Teaching American History Grant through the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, at Princeton University in July.  Surrounded by other history junkies, I am wondering what the experience will bring.

So much has changed in the way of how I learn now: it’s much more immediate, more on-demand and free-form, that I am wondering how I’ll fare in the structure of the Seminar.  Each day consists of a three-hour lecture in the morning followed by lunch and a discussion session in the afternoon.  Pretty standard university stuff, but can I do it like that anymore?  Have I become the type of student that can’t handle that format?  Will I be “that” student you hear about in diatribes in the Chronicle about today’s students lack of focus?  Will I be the guy that causes the professor to ban laptops?

Holy cow.  I hope not.

The reading list is heavy, and it reminds me of the type of reading graduate students are asked to do in order to contribute to the learning community at that level.  However, the reaction of my colleagues and I to the reading immediately reminded me that things have changed.  Our initial idea was to create a schedule of the readings so we could pace ourselves, but then we stated that we needed to share our information so that we could enter the two-weeks with as much of a perspective on the readings as time would allow.  Luckily, the seminar has set up an internal social network called mydolley where each of us can post our work.  We set up a group page where we could easily outline the readings, including our major ideas about them.  As for taking notes and backchanneling during the seminar itself, we are exploring if we should use something like etherpad rather than Google Docs, or todaysmeet rather than twitter.

Already, you can see I will be that student, won’t I?

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2 thoughts on ““That” Student.

  1. Just a little pushback. I would argue the way you learn has not changed. You still have to take in new info, compare that info to what you already think and fit the info into your schema. What has changed is the way you access info. The sense making part (the learning part) still takes part in your brain.

  2. Jerrid,

    Right, but what I am thinking is that there has to be something in the fact that I am connecting it physically in ways I would not have in the past. For example, I went to a lecture by a historian from Rutgers University back in 2009 and took notes via my laptop. I completely agree about the internalizing of the information, but what was different was the fact that when he mentioned Fareed Zakaria’s work, I was able to find it then and there and insert it. When he mentioned the travesty of the looted museums in Iraq after the initial American occupation in 2003, I was able to pull in images of the portraits and statues that were taken.

    I agree, most of that is about access, but I think there has to be something to the connections I am making while going through it. What do you think?

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