Thursday, November 25, 2010

Summa Cum Laude and ICT

UP had its most number of summa cum laude graduates last academic year (2009-2010) which totaled 33. Professors, post graduate students, and older graduates were amazed. When asked of their reactions on the statistics, these people had varying answers. Some say it’s because of the revised general education curriculum that allowed some students to graduate without taking difficult subjects such as math and sciences. While one respected university faculty member said that these students (Summa Cum Laude) were not any brighter than us older graduates, it’s just that their lives were made a lot easier now because of the internet.

This change in student lifestyle from hard to easy is said to be largely attributed to ICT. Before, students had to search for each material manually, only in the library. Research work then was hampered by library hours, limited resources, and restricted access to materials. They say ICT changed everything, UP student life included.

UP is at the frontline of this revolution in the education system. I have witnessed the change from manual registration to the use of computerized registration system (CRS). It was a major shift but the students quickly adapted. The CRS eliminated the long lines for enlistment in blockbuster subjects. The ancient practice of falling in line at 5am just to have a better chance of getting a subject has been stopped.

Now, almost all the things we need to do for school are available online. We can search the online public catalogue of the library from anywhere. We get cases from the internet. These online materials may be easily downloaded or read simultaneously by everyone. We register, view and print grades online.

I think the faculty member’s comment has some truth but it is not entirely true. I believe he has a point when he said that the student life of those in the generation of the 33 summa cum laude graduates was made relatively easier by the use of internet and ICT.

However, I also recognize that the use of ICT has not changed some standards. The help internet and ICT give pertains mainly to sourcing of materials. Easy access to materials does not change the fact that students have to read, analyze and memorize the contents of the materials. While access has greatly improved, the essential mental processes which these materials have to undergo have not been made easy.

Today, students still read and analyze the same materials read by old students years ago only in LCD screens, instead of papers. In the end, I think those 33 students deserve to be summa cum laude graduates.

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