There are thousands of students at Baruch College. It is easy to become acquainted with many new people, but whether or not a student is actively engaging in the Baruch community, it is nearly impossible to meet every single person in the school. Everyone has clashing schedules and there are a countless number of places to occupy. Due to this, it is very likely that students miss many opportunities to come into contact with other students who share similar interests and have common goals. New Media technology can help create these opportunites.
I propose that Baruch College should create an online virtual world of student life. It should be mandatory for every student to be a part of the college’s virtual world, just as the use of Blackboard is mandatory. Though unlike some virtual worlds in Second Life which are created as alter realities (hence the name), “Baruch Life” should be an exact representation of everything on campus. Every user (i.e. student or professor) in this virtual world should look somewhat like they do in reality. Since Baruch Life would be used for educational networking purposes, options for superficial things such as clothing should be limited.
Baruch Life would help new students adapt to the school quickly, making it easier to find classrooms and offices. Perhaps a “visit” to an office in the virtual world will, in some cases, eliminate the need to visit the office in real life, because someone “at the office” was there to help answer questions. “Office hours” could be longer this way and students would save time standing in line.
At Baruch College, every individual is responsible for their own schedule and grades. Even though students discuss with one another their problems in certain classes, their grades, etc., it doesn’t seem to make their issues any easier to deal with. Similarly, although some students form study groups or attend tutoring sessions, it doesn’t seem to take the pressure away during exams. And even though the college has clubs/workshops, the majority of students do not take part in them for many reasons including inability to attend because of work, no interest, or unawareness.
All of the above limits students from maximizing their college experience. Even those who get straight A’s or those who participate in all the extracurricular activities they have time for are restricted by factors of reality. That is, communication with other students is limited and time cannot be controlled. A virtual world of Baruch would connect the student body in a revolutionary way. It would make introductions easy and interactions that would have never taken place before happen.
The formation of groups and imitation of classes in “Baruch Life” would help students interact with many other students who share similar interests or problems. Also, those who do well in a certain class may be able to explain the material to their classmates in a more understandable way than the professor, ultimately helping themelves study as well. Chances are, 80% of each class is in the same boat and they don’t even know it.
This type of new media technology has the potential to make every student feel less pressure and become more involved. It won’t change the fact that each person is responsible for his/her own grades, but it will help make individuals not feel like they are such small fish in a big ocean.