At WIU From A Student’s Perspective
Dr. William Knox
Generally available notebook computers with bundled software—together with an expanding range of portable information devices—used by WIU students and faculty would mean that, literally, students and faculty could do the business of higher education in more places and more seamlessly than ever before. Student note taking and faculty file sharing in Stipes classrooms could be done to complete integrated daily learning packages. Except for those designed for special areas of study, computer labs would disappear since students could carry their computers to places that work the best in their daily campus routine—perhaps between classes in Horrabin or the Rec Center. Students, as individuals or as groups, could take entire papers and projects to their professor’s office hours (face-to-face and virtual), impromptu, to ask advice. Likewise, faculty could easily point students to learning resources—even while meeting in Dividends Coffee Shop in Stipes Hall. Thompson Hall rooms, off-campus apartments, the Murray Street Café, or favorite stairways in Simpkins could all become centers of individual and networked study.
Students would more easily work together, sharing screens and ideas for collaborative projects and homework assignments—even while riding on Amtrak. More samples than ever of great art, scenes from plays, and movements of music could be accessed when a student needs the sounds and images that bridge reference texts and live venues. The library could have more open-plan study areas where students could choose individual or group work. Any student doing fieldwork at Kibbe Wildlife Station, completing a business internship in a Chicago office, studying crop yields at the University Farm, testing a new wind turbine, or tracking service learning at a downstate pre-school would have a powerful interfacing tool at hand. Overall, students and faculty would have a highly portable IT package to enhance their search for understanding. But these points merely scratch the surface of possibilities. As the technology continues to develop with greater online resources, more mobile devices, and wider wireless connectivity, teaching and learning can become even more convenient, integrated, and varied—ultimately to enhance WIU student performance and campus life.