Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sixth College Practicum

Since I'm a 6th College student ("I WANT A STANDING OVATION!"...for my fellow Sixthers.), I have to complete the Sixth College CAT Practicum; CAT = Culture, Art and Technology. I think the program is designed to help broaden our minds, see different approaches and bind us all together as a college, but I also can see how people are merely bonded by their intense dislike (dare I say, hatred) for the program.

Hatred for the CAT program doesn't surprise me, but it throws me into despair sometimes.

Before you judge me, I DO think that a lot of the CAT requirements are dumb, useless and ineffective in broadening our minds. But I think the intention for it is good and that the students could really make it into a great program if they weren't so apathetic and judgemental about giving feedback and participating in the college community. I'm not saying that I'm always proactive, but I try not to hate on something that I probably could change.

Freshman year, I remember taking a class on Abortion and it's ethics, etc. And I remember that it was one of my most memorable classes in all of my college experience. Yes, it was definitely irritating; it often involved heated arguments and there were some people who I thought were total bigots, idiots and assholes but it was one of the classes that taught me the most at the start of my college career and would carry me through for many years down the same thought path. It really did teach me something and it wasn't necessarily the answer to whether abortion was right or wrong; it taught me that there are definitely reasons that lead people to believe in what they believed and even questioned if their basis for believing such things was sound. The question of ethics and morals and whether or not they exist was such a profound moment for me that I still like to toy with the notion while I'm waiting at the bus stop. Also, the notion of respecting people's opinions rang true; at least, that's what I have to tell myself in order not to strangle some of them.

Anyways, I digressed from my initial intent to post and that was to mention my current CAT Practicum course, which is called Developing Technologies for Developing Countries. It's being taught by Derek Lomas who is actually in India as the course progresses. Utilizing webcams, Skype, instant messaging, email, phone and basically anything else we can find, my professor is literally "wired" to us. If there was ever a time to experiment with classroom teaching, technology and remote teaching, this would be it...and I have first hand experience. It's definitely been challenging without his actual prescence here but it has also made it very interesting!

First of all, I noticed that I either get very excited and proactive, or lazy and procrastinative. Since he's not there, it's easier to slip into class unnoticed if you're late or turn in your papers digitally on the webwiki. On the other hand, I get very excited and post stuff on the Wiki in spurts whenever I need an outlet to dump all my images and writings. It definitely has its pros and cons and I think whatever you get out of it definitely depends on what you put into it.

Secondly, the class demographics prove to be very interesting. We're a mix of engineers, management science majors and...random liberal arts sort of majors (like me: International Studies). Whenever people start rambling about the specifics of cell phones or voice recognition, I tend to zone-out. But there are also people who I find to be interested in the same specialized area of helping developing countries and even questioning if we SHOULD be helping them or if they even WANT our help. It all ties back into the question of ethics and why we feel arrogant enough to say that they need our help.

Thirdly, and sadly, Apathy is still rampant. Despite being in our last few quarters at UCSD, many people don't seem to want to utilize the last chance we have at such a flexible course. It's really not that difficult! I'm kind of surprised how little some people have changed and at the same time, surprised at how much others have. How do you break through apathy?

Anyways, I'm just rambling, but if you're bored, check out our growing and developing Wiki: I'm in the middle of writing our about our first project: Kiva: Empowering Loans


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