The post-secondary education scene is no stranger to 57-year-old Alex Krycek, who has been a member of the UMBC faculty since the Fall of 2003. With its perpetually tired eyes, sunken cheekbones, and broad, vaguely Squidwardian nose, his visage is one that has touched the hearts of countless angsty post-adolescent pupils. But as beloved and wise as Krycek may appear, technical proficiency seems to escape his wrinkled fingers. As many of his students will report, the Introductory Computer Science professor is, ironically enough, entirely incapable of even the simplest Microsoft Office operations.
During his lectures at the Computational Arts Building, Krycek often forgets which button to press in order to actually start the slideshow. This results in a sizeable quantity of his lectures being conducted entirely on the “preview” screen of PowerPoint. Seemingly oblivious to the periodic shouts of advice from the students in his lecture hall, Krycek has a tendency to spend the first fifteen minutes of class hunting for the “Play from Current Slide” button, only to accidently click “Start Show from Beginning” and spend an additional five minutes trying to find out how to exit the slideshow. The implementation of clickers in the mid 2000s only made matters worse. These small, battery-powered instruments of torture could be useful for teaching if the program didn’t crash every other class, leaving our friend Krycek free to graze in the fertile valley that is Turning Point software troubleshooting. With any luck, he just might be able to get in a few clicker questions before the next class starts to funnel in. Oh, how the times have changed.
You see, the unfortunate thing about technological progress isn’t the looming threat of Skynet or falling into a Matrix-esque dystopia, it’s that we as citizens need to constantly keep up with changing technology in order to remain a functioning part of society. No one requires a clicker, the classroom could be run just fine without them. But they made it a part of the curriculum because it’s a neat, trendy addition to the classroom dynamic, and no one wants to be known as “that school that’s still living in the 90’s”. And who’s to say that clickers aren’t a wonderful teaching device? But the fact of the matter is: innovation comes with an unwritten social consequence, i.e., some people get left behind. Krycek is just one of many teachers that are stuck somewhere between the blackboard era, the whiteboard era, and finally, the BlackBoard™ era.