The offline student

We live in a highly technologically-dependent world in which life as a member of society, nonetheless as a student, seems almost unmanageable without the Internet. With its simple social networking and wealth of accessible information, a student’s lifestyle has no doubt been made easier by the web but has it gotten to the point where we can’t do without?

“The university uses the Internet so much that they don’t print out syllabuses anymore, they communicate to students through email, they spend a lot of money subscribing to library databases and encourage online research. I think the university does everything they can to have students utilize the resources of the Internet,” said communication studies professor Ian Steinberg .

As students, we are expected to have access to the Internet in order to obtain a fulfilling education. Our dependency isn’t really even one of personal motive but a modern day requirement. Several off-campus Laurier students felt the effects of this during their first week back at school having moved into a new apartment without web access.

“Everything you need to prepare for your next class is posted online and they won’t necessarily tell you in class… you just have to check all the time,” said fourt- year student Taylor Gayowsky, who was made to “drive to campus everyday just to get internet.”

Others crowded the tables of a nearby McDonalds or Starbucks in their time of desperation, like second-year student Katia Taillefer. “I’m obsessive compulsive with my online banking and not being able to check it, not being able to know every minute of every day how much money I’m allowed to spend is hard,” commented Taillefer.

“School and banking,” agreed Gayowsky, “That’s what I use most of the time on the Internet. They’re the two most important things; you need to keep track of your money and what you’re doing in class.”

But there are a lot of trivial habits we rely on the web for as well. “I check the weather every morning so that was tough not knowing if it was going to be cold or not,” said Gayowsky.

There are some benefits to taking some time offline though. “I don’t rely on Facebook anymore… when I go on the Internet it’s for important things that need to get done but then the negative is that I feel kind of out of touch from everything that’s happening,” said Taillefer.

Gayowsky reflects that she “was so much more productive, that is the flip side of it. I did my readings way in advance, I even cleaned the house.” All in all, they survived the inconvenience. And that’s all it really is for the average person according to Steinberg.

“Of course, you could do everything without the internet, you could pay your bills or go to that bank in person but I think people have just gotten used to that convenience… you can pay your bills at the last second, you can access the bank in the middle of the night and so people don’t really think in terms of doing things in person anymore.”

Steinberg reflects on his own years as a university student, partly during a time when doing things in person was really the only option. “I went to the library. I found books on the shelves and I photocopied them. In my undergrad and my first Master’s degree I didn’t rely on the Internet.

He continued, “However for my second Master’s the Internet was there and I had great resources and I feel that my time management went down the tube… I felt both worlds.”

These days, although the average person could manage, a student without Internet would likely be a student without an education. It is not just a dependent generation but a dependent system which educates the generation. Although, Steinberg offers that “there are computers on campus, you can go to a computer lab. You don’t need to have the Internet at home necessarily… they create the resources for you.”