by Lisa Bosco
This year, Suffolk County Community College has instated a 1500-sheet paper ration for each professor. This is causing quite a stir, especially with the older members of the staff who are used to teaching their courses a certain way. A way, that is, that uses a ton of handouts and written tests. It’s a drastic move on the college’s part to jump on the go-green bandwagon and though they may be claiming to save the rainforest, they are in fact just putting a strain on professors and students alike.
Just as students are used to learning a certain way, every teacher has his or her own style and method of teaching. The college is basically forcing teachers to give up their old style of getting ideas across to students in exchange for a new and—for many of the older faculty members—intimidating way of teaching. Every professor on campus was given bandwidth on the internet to set up a website but to me, that feels like giving an accountant a canvas and oils and telling him to paint a beautiful picture. It’s a daunting task for many of the faculty members simply because after teaching with handouts and in-class assignments sometimes for as long as 30 years has evolved to be the best method for allowing students the best opportunity to learn the material in order to pass the class.
What the school seems to disregard is the most important part of the school and that is the students. If the professors aren’t able to provide the best access to the necessary information, then students will not be able to pass their courses and the grades on campus will suffer the consequences.
Professor John Stratton in the History department noted how in order to give his 70 students the mandatory three exams in class; he will have used 1200 pages of his allotted paper amount. He is a teacher who is used to handing out documents in class and just over the summer had to change his notes and handouts to documents that could be downloaded online and must then be printed out by the students and brought into class. It puts a lot more pressure on students to get on the website and download the documents rather than just have them readily available in class.
This also poses a problem for the students at home who may not have a computer or working printer readily available to them. I know from my own experience that this could be a nightmare that could be readily avoided if a teacher would simply hand out the assignment in person.
Websites are difficult to host and design, and a lot of times there are bugs in the system that cause the site to crash. What then are students supposed to do? The obvious solution is to continue to allow the teachers to teach in anyway that suits them best. The tech-savvy faculty members can have their websites up and running while the more old-school teachers can hand out their papers and in the end, it will be both the teachers and the students who win.