May 24, 2012 — Denise L. Passero
Over the past fourteen years, I have seen the Internet change the way we learn, share, communicate and collaborate at FM. In 1996, I was a student here and wanted to take full advantage of every learning opportunity higher education had to offer. I visited the Evans Library and asked if I could “see the Internet.” There were approximately five computers with Internet access at the time and I had very little computer experience. The librarian brought up a web page; it was a search engine – Alta Vista, I believe. She typed a word into the search text box and pressed enter. The screen filled with what I now know are links to articles related to the search term. I was left alone to explore the topics that were presented to me. Since I had never seen the Internet before, I had no idea what to do with the blue underlined text on the screen so I just sat staring at the screen. I did not touch the keyboard or the mouse. After a minute or two, I said to myself, “This Internet is stupid. I don’t see how anyone can learn anything by using it.” I left the computer and headed for the comfort and familiarity of a book. True story.
Today, I cannot imagine what life would be like without the Internet. Because of it, I have completed two degrees online. Fourteen years ago, students at FM had to visit the library to access the Internet. Today, it is available from every one of the nearly 600 computers in the academic classrooms on campus and is accessible from every office desktop. We even carry it in our pockets everywhere we go by means of a variety of mobile devices – cell phones, laptops, and tablets. Students can access it over the FM wireless network which was nonexistent 12 years ago but has now expanded to cover almost every area of the campus. Students can even take courses at FM by means of the Internet.
With the implementation of the MyFM Portal, the Internet has truly become integrated into every aspect of academic life. Starting in January 2012, MyFM Portal can become what I like to refer to as a “dashboard” from which every student and staff member can experience campus life. Our students can now use a special area of our Portal called Self Service to get their grades as soon as they are posted by the instructors. Faculty members can create home pages in the Portal where students can access homework assignments, submit papers, and keep track of their progress in their academic careers. Faculty and adjuncts can take attendance from their iPads if they so choose. From a productivity standpoint, departments that provide services to our students can have their own space carved out on the Portal that can be used not only to link students to the assistance they need but for staff members to work more collaboratively with each other.
Because of the Internet, life at FM will never be the same as it was when I first arrived here. With the addition of the MyFM Portal, there is a tremendous potential for us to have an enhanced teaching, learning and working experience. I have come to the conclusion that the Internet is not stupid and one can indeed learn a great deal from using it responsibly. It has truly become a vehicle for learning, sharing, communicating and collaborating here at FM.
Denise L. Passero is FM’s Systems/Application Technology Coordinator.