As students at Exeter University in 2018, it seems bizarre that for over 100 years now students have been driving the locals mad and trudging up Forum Hill. Exeposé recently reached its 30th anniversary, but looking back even that far seems completely alien. It’s hard to picture hand-writing an essay without Google or being able to panic about it to your course friends on your Facebook group chat. Let’s get down to the important stuff, though: the price of a pint has almost quadrupled since the 80s. On the other hand, do I really want to live in a world where jägerbombs don’t exist?
As I show up to my lecture and whip out my laptop, ready to bash out some neat and detailed notes (and definitely not catch-up on my newsfeed), I look around and see some of my fellow students still stuck in the dark ages, no doubt getting hand cramp as they hunch, scribbling frantically over notebooks that will probably end up going missing a week or so before exams.
But it does make you wonder: are we so stuck in our ways that we are blind to the possibility that the traditional approach might be best?
The existence of lecture recordings is another one of modern technology’s glorious achievements. Students can rest easy in the knowledge that should the worst happen and they are unable to make a lecture, more likely than not it will be available online, and they will be able to act as though they never missed it at all. But before the age of ELE, imagine having to hunt down your friend’s crudely written notes and just keep your fingers crossed that they had paid enough attention. I have heard many of my lecturers complain that students feel like they don’t have to come to their 8.30s because they know the lecture will be recorded. I do agree that by completing most of your course from the comfort of your own room, you miss a fundamental part of the university experience. That is, walking into your early morning lecture with a bucket of coffee and complaining “it’s so early” to everyone you see. But sticking to your timetable does make you feel like you’ve done something with your day and gives students some much needed structure.
30 years ago was the romanticised golden age of no mobile phones, when if plans were made, you had to stick to them. No last-minute text messages saying, “sorry I can’t make it” – if someone didn’t show up you had to assume that either something had come up or they were dead. But then, I think about the role that Facebook has played in my university experience, notifying me of events coming up that my friends are going to and keeping me up to date with the societies and sports that I am a part of. I can’t help but pity our predecessors who had to make sure they showed up to every society meeting or ensure they kept up with what was going on at their favourite bars. Indeed, if you wanted to make a phone call to your parents, or a long-distance girlfriend or boyfriend whilst in halls, you would have to be prepared to queue for the payphone and wait for anyone else who wanted to catch up with their loved ones to finish their conversations first.
Despite the suggestions that we live in a technology-obsessed age, it clearly adds to our university experience. Frankly I pity the first writers for Exeposé 30 years ago who would have had to handwrite their articles before trudging up to the newspaper office for it to get typed up and published.