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Volume 4, Number 3
March, 1999

Tales of the Geek Lord
No Class

by Pelican Smith

Remember Fat Albert? I loved that show -- especially the humor. Who could forget:
Weird Harold: Hey Saturday Mornin`
Dumb Donald: Why you callin` me Saturday Mornin`
Weird Harold: 'Cause you got...NO CLASS

That's this months topic -- No Class.

Specifically - no College classes. See, my friends, I've been 'round the way. I've sat through hour after hour of lectures. I've given up time with the family to gather in a classroom and listen to an instructor read (badly) from the textbook. And recently, I have thrown open my windows and shouted to the world - "I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

For us computer geeks, university is nothing more than a resume item. Ask any geek and they will tell you that they did not learn their most valuable skills in college. They learned those skills at home at 3 AM, or at work when the network keeps crashing and everyone turns to them for answers. But some companies still look upon a degree as the definition of whether a person is truly dedicated to the computer field or not, so we keep going to classes. We keep listening to mind-numbing lectures. We keep paying all that money.

There's no fix for the money part. Universites, colleges, tech schools and every other building with more than two floors is all about money. But you can get your time back. It's called Distance Education.

You know I love the Internet. You know how I am prone to discussing the web as if it were the answer to all Man's problems. This time, though, you really have to trust me. I'm taking my first courses through the computer, and I just keep asking myself, "Where have you been all my life?".

I am taking two courses. The first is through the web. I sign into a web page, check for assignments from the instructor, read up on class discussions, post my homework, and ask any questions I might have. The second is through a shell account, and I use Unix commands to do all the same things. Both systems work. Both systems are easy to use.

The instructors to both classes are dedicated to making it work. If I do my job, keep up on my reading and turn in my assignments, then I'm in. If not, well, I just spent some money for nothing.

Mid term and final exams are a different story. For those, I have to go to a proctor and have them administer the exam to make sure I don't cheat. They package it up and mail it to my instructor, who lets me know how I did. Hey, two days in a classroom I can handle.

True, it's hard to meet college chicks this way. But it's easy to still have a life while going to school full time. For instance, listen to how I spent last night.

One of my courses was having a realtime discussion through chat, where we could Q & A with the instructor. While attending this, I was sitting back in my chair with my feet up on the desk, eating some brushetta and drinking a glass of lambrusco. I was listening to my favorite radio station through Real Audio and carrying on the occasional conversation with my kids. Heck, I even answered some of the questions posed by other classmates. My son, locked in the Hell which is 6th grade, was green with envy.

I travel, a lot, but I am always near a computer, so I can always make it to class. That alone makes it worthwhile.

If you are a college student, stop going to it, and start having it come to you. Work is still required, but anything you can do in the nude can't be all bad. 5 Links To Make You Think
  1. University of Maryland Go Terrapins
  2. Arizona State
  3. New Jersey Institute of Technology
  4. Chadwick University
  5. Community College Distance Learning Network

    Honorable Mention:
  6. Alpha Centauri

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