Monday, October 25, 2010

Just Imagine What Life Would Be Like Without Technology

You know this eerie feeling that you get when it seems like inanimate objects are listening to you? Today in class, I was discussing the profound shift people experienced in their way of relating to the world and to themselves as a result of the technological advances of the early XXth century.

"And just imagine," I announced dramatically, "how different every single aspect of our lives would be if those technological advances did not exist." At which point the projector I use for my PowerPoint presentations died. Probably, it was trying to help me make my point about the importance of technology.

Eventually, I managed to turn the projector back on and continued my lecture. "Of course," I said, "people soon realized that aside from the obvious benefits of technology, there were many negative consequences of these technological advances." Right at that moment, the projector went dead once again. Next Monday, this class will be observed (at my request) by our Assistant Dean. I just hope that the projector decides to make itself part of the conversation on that day as well. It will go a long way towards helping me make it clear to the administration that I really need to be given a different classroon for this course. I have already had to teach a class on the ideological ramifications of the tango in a classroom where the sound system refused to work.


Anonymous said...

just bring your office computer to the class - it will make its point for you!

Vinod Khare said...

LOL! A timely kick to the power cord should come to your rescue! :)

Iris said...

I will start this comment with saying I know nothing about academia except as being a student and getting a degree many years ago.
You don't seem very happy at your mid-western university.
I (having nothing to do with academia) invite you to check out the University of Oregon. The town is small (150k), the produce is organic and local, the music is eclectic and many people are into walking, biking and alternate forms of transportation. The ocean is an hour and 1/2 away and, if you like to ski, the mountains are about the same distance away. We actually have some tracts of rain forest left. You would be a welcome addition!

Clarissa said...

Iris: I heard good things about U of Oregon, so I'm sure you are right. My current university, though, is a place I love with a passion, broken projector and all. :-) The students are lovely.

Joy-Mari Cloete said...

My brain isn't working yet so all I can add is that this post made me laugh ;)

el said...

The profound shift as a result of the technological advances... ideological ramifications of the tango

Do you teach classes in English literature and history too, besides Spanish language?

Your course sounds very interesting, especially the lecture about technology's influence. Can't people like me find presentations or videos (!) online? I sometimes check blog of another professor, Hugo Schwyzer, and his students post lectures from his course, which can be downloaded and heard by everybody.

Clarissa said...

Actually, the technology, World War I, the tango, etc. are all part of the same course on Hispanic Civilization. It's my trademark course :-), and I'm very proud of it. I know Hugo posts his lectures, but I don't see the point of placing mine online. Online teaching is somewhat of a waste of time, in my opinion.

Pagan Topologist said...

I have never used Power Point, and I never intend to. I use a blackboard, whiteboard, or if I must, transparencies and an overhead projector. I am an improv lecturer, and the idea of preparing so rigidly that I could follow something like a sequence of Power Point "slides" is such a complete turn-off that I would probably retire and do something else if I were forced to teach that way. I also find the talks at research conferences given via computer to be the least interesting ones at the conferences. I think this is partially because the information is delivered too quickly to think about and digest, but I am not convinced this is the only reason. There is something engaging about the speaker writing on a board as he or she speaks which makes everything easier to follow, especially if the material is unfamiliar or very technical.

Clarissa said...

Oh, I agree completely. Computer-assisted presentations at conferences ARE extremely boring. However, in this course on Hispanic Civ, we talk about art. So I need to have paintings and texts we analyze up there for the students to see. When we talked about the tango, I had to put on the dance, because how else could I analyze what the sequence of steps means ideologically?

Also, I can't write on the board. I get confused and start making spelling mistakes (which I never ever do otherwise.) I think it's the autism.

I always used transparencies before but at this university the facilities are horrible for that, while for PP presentations they are normally very good. So I had to turn my transparencies into PP slides.

Anonymous said...

Iris, your comment is so sweet but as someone who knows Clarissa very well (I am her sister) I had a bit of a chuckle about the positive points of living in Oregon that you made to her. It sounded like a perfect place for ME to live in, but our dear Clarissa is a whole different story.

a) small town - she is a big city junkie who lives in heels and adores dressing up
b) organic and local produce - Clarissa's favorite cuisines are Russian, Indian, Greek and Japanese (not sure about the order)
c) eclectic music - she grooves to Eminem, believe it or not
d) people are into walking, biking and alternate forms of transportation - oh boy, where do I start? ;)
e) "if you like to ski" - haha
My sister is an absolute genius, a talent on many levels, a walking encyclopedia, the most charming individual that you could possibly meet (if she likes you), but I would PAY to see her ski :)

And just to confirm her last statement, she does love her current university, technology aside.

Your message was really sweet though - I would totally love to live in your town!

(Clarissa, if I blabbed out too much, feel free not to post ;) )

Clarissa said...

Thank you, M., nobody knows me as well as you do. :-) What a lovely comment! After reading it, I started admiring myself a lot. :-) :-)

I'll call you tomorrow.