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Sac State is Not Your Parents' University

Students aren’t yet arriving in flying cars, but new technology has brought some major changes to everyday life at Sac State. With online classes, book ordering and library databases, today’s student has faster access to information than could have been imagined
just a decade ago.

Sac State hydrogeology professor Tim Horner on the American River in SacramentoStudents are also more mobile, with seemingly every hand connected to a cell phone, pager or digital organizer. And they’re less likely to be stuck in line, with phone and data line connections fast replacing walk-up windows. With a password, a student’s
academic records are as close as Amazon.com.

Consider student Ericka Anglin. She and others like her have caused a big drop in the need for index cards, pockets full of copying machine change and even micro-fiche. The 20-year-old business major does much of her research online.

“I’ve hardly ever gone inside the library building,” Anglin says. “I do all my research from one of the computers on campus.”

The University Library’s online service has made that possible for many students. It provides access to thousands of full-text journals and popular press publications, in databases such as Lexis-Nexis.

“Things are sure different,” muses Larry Augusta, a 1962 graduate. “I remember we were just getting good typewriters … I had a very serviceable manual Smith-Corona, but the problem was manual typewriters didn’t produce uniform copy.”

Larry AugustaAugusta, now an assistant chief counsel with the State Board of Equalization and president-elect of the CSUS Alumni Association, remembers trying to borrow a better typewriter and struggling withstate-of-the-art correction tape and erasable bond paper.

“My, what a lot of grief a simple word processor would have saved me," he says.

Today’s students also have online access to academic records, evaluations of their progress toward graduation and more through a computerized system called CasperWeb. That same system allows professors to turn in grades, which one professor recently accomplished from France.

Engineering student Eric Guerra, 22, says CasperWeb is far better than the automated phone system—the one that saved students from the pandemonium of in person.

“I like to see it all in front of me, all of my academic information right there,” Guerra says. “One thing that’s really good—I can make sure I didn’t punch the wrong number on the phone and end up with a ballet class rather than calculus.”

As an engineering student, Guerra sees much of the world’s best technology as soon as it becomes available.

Hewlett-Packard, Intel and other hightech companies are constantly investingin their future employees, making contributions of equipment and staff expertise to engineering and computer programs. And Riverside Hall, which houses the College of Engineering and Computer Science, is equipped to provide fast, wireless computer access to laptops in its interior.

Other students are taking entire classes online.

Sac State’s Web-based class listing has grown rapidly since the first online class was offered in fall 1997. There’s now more than 30 Webbased classes enrolling about 1,000 students each semester. And more than 150 other classes meet each semester in traditional classrooms but have websites featuring interactive quizzes and presentations.

Surprisingly, senior faculty members seem particularly interested in developing online courses, according to Rose Leigh Vines, director of distance and distributed education. Another surprise—students who take Web-based courses live close to campus, work, and otherwise resemble the average student.

All this campus technology combined with better and cheaper personal communication gadgets have made many students into star multi-taskers.

Pagers, cell phones, e-mail, “I can’t live without any of it,” says Anglin, who is a full-time student, directs the Student Access Center and is involved with student government.

“If it weren’t for my cell phone, e-mail and message phone, there’s no way I could do it all,” agrees Guerra. He also works, is involved in student government and plays in a traditional Latin American band. “All the technology helps you get the most out of the little time you have.”

There’s some concern, of course, that the technology might take away some important human contact. When students register and buy books online, and even tour the campus on the Web, it can be easy to forget about real people.

And, as so many alumni point out, real people make the Sac State experience memorable. Fortunately, professors have shown a strong commitment to giving current students the same experience Augusta remembers so fondly.

“I had professors who were very interested in students and their lives, and I would visit them and get to know them very well,” Augusta says. “They were always accessible. That was something that was so great about Sac State.”

More: www.csus.edu/distance.


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