Current School Norms

It has been a long time since I had to sit in a classroom in the flesh and I don’t know what the school norms are these days. When I was an undergraduate, from 1988 through 1993, things were a bit different than today. No laptops, only a few people recording things, and so forth.

When I did my Master’s degree a few years ago, it was a distance-based program through a California State University school and I worked full-time as well. I never set foot in a classroom but interacted with instructors and peers through e-mail, web sites, and postal mail.

Returning to school in a few weeks, I am trying to determine what will be the best workflow for me. I gather that, unlike previous decades, no one is going to flip out if I have a laptop with me in class in order to take notes but I’m actually not 100% sure. I’ve also thought of using one of my portable audio recorders, used for podcasts in the past, to record class lectures, especially for my Japanese coursework. Is this commonly done though?

I’ve been looking at things like Livescribe as well, which is an expensive electronic pen that both records your writing in a notebook but also the audio that it hears while you write. This allows you to play back the audio with the notes written at the same time later. Of course, my handwriting is so poor that this may very well be a horrible option. I’ve been most of the last 20 years with typing as my day-to-day tool of choice. I’m not sure if it is realistic to go into school and try to be paperless though.

On a separate note, I’m wondering if I’m going to be ten or fifteen years older than most of the people in my doctoral program. I expect that I will be at least five to ten years older than most of my peers, which will make for interesting dynamics.

All of this will be settled soon. I have three days of orientation at the end of the month and beginning of next month so they can do the doctoral student infodump on us. I expect I’ll meet most of the incoming doctoral group during these sessions.