Students, over the last couple semesters, have probably noticed the gradual shift towards WebCT in their classes. Any printed material, whether it’s readings or a syllabus, can be uploaded onto the web. Getting these printed materials become solely the students responsibility, and also their financial responsibility for the cost of printing.
I’ve had two professors who didn’t hand out syllabuses the first week, one of whom apologized and told us it’s the university passing the buck to the students. One of the many things that have reached the financial chopping block is the amount that teachers are allowed to photocopy for distribution in class.
But a syllabus isn’t so bad. At their longest, I’ve had about a seven-page syllabus that included the schedule for the semester. It’s annoying, but not the end of the world. How many students can relate though to having weekly readings posted on the web that they’re required to print? Last semester I had two different classes that had online readings, and both professors recommended printing out all the material to bring to class. Let’s say just one of those classes had at least 10 pages a week of reading, though it was inevitably more. There are 15 weeks in the semester, aside from finals week. We’ll even cut out a week for a final review, leaving 14 weeks of academic study that require online readings. That’s 140 pages, at the bare minimum, of printed reading material alone. For one class! And I had two classes with online readings, which would leave me at 280 pages, a little less than half of the ream of paper I bought. I ended up forgoing the convenience of having the readings at hand, and read them all on the computer, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
And just think if all classes move in this direction. An average full time student has four or five classes. That’s a potential 560 to 700 pages, all now the responsibility of one student on top of the normal load of papers and projects. I currently am still working on a 600-sheet pack of printer paper, that’s lasted me well over a year. If all classes had hefty amounts to print, I’d already be working on a second pack of paper.
I know it seems silly to squabble over the cost of printing, but it already seems like that’s happened on an administrative level. When a professors does hand out a syllabus, they hardly ever make extra for the crashers because they’re so restricted on their photocopying. Professors who don’t want to pass on the cost to the students often end up paying most of their photocopying out of pocket.
It’s a good thing that the university is moving along with technology and allowing professors to utilize things like WebCT. I’m glad to know some of my tuition is going to keep CSUN from falling behind. However, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the money that originally went to photocopies. Ultimately, there are bigger battles and we’ll buy the paper. But it’s still the university passing the buck to the students.