Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Students today

I am responsible for a subject taught at undergraduate level at Southern Cross University, which has about 1200 students enrolled in it. What amazes me is the incredible diversity in the slices of life that these students show me. At any one time there may be huge things happening in their lives: a baby born here, a new job there; the sad death of a family member here, a near-accident there. And what truly strikes me is how different their lives are compared to a traditional perception of a ‘student’. Most of my students work; some of them full time, and yet they manage to pack in assignments in between commitments. Many of them we never see face-to-face as they travel for work and study by distance education, accessing their learning materials and tutors online (using a variety of sources. Also, I podcast most of my lectures, with varying degrees of success).

One such student is Mike. Apart from studying for a Bachelor of Business, he works as a professional surfer for the company Billabong, and as such, he is sent where the waves are to promote the company’s products and perform other sponsoring commitments. He has just returned from Los Angeles, and he is about to go to Tahiti to surf in the Billabong Pro. Under time pressure, he’s worried and stressed that he is late with submitting his essay and that he won’t be able to access internet, and might not be able to access the library databases for a suitable article to include in his essay. These are honest and real concerns and pressures in his life, and though he may never set foot in a classroom, he’s a real student in a real world.

He’s got some unreal photos though! That’s him on his board.

Here is a very thought-provoking YouTube video on students today.

No comments: