Tuesday, September 19, 2000
Every student who takes a course in the NWE has a UNIX account with almost totally unrestricted Internet access. Students can make Web pages in one of the five NWE classrooms using one of several HTML editors available through our X-Windows interface. However, many students find the transition between the online environment and their home computer very unsettling. NWE technical staff encourage students to work from home and suggest that instructors teaching in the NWE do the same, and we provide copious documentation designed to make the transition more comfortable. There are no firewalls or access restrictions barring file transfer protocol (FTP) access or remote login with a secure shell client (SSH). However, most students just don't seem to know how to tackle the problem of getting access to their work outside of the classroom labs.
I've heard stories of users, when given a floppy with a file on it, say an Excel spreadsheet, stick the floppy in the computer, launch Excel, load the file from the floppy, then save it to the harddrive, never realizing they could just copy the file directly.
Then again, most users don't really organize their files, saving the files where ever the default location is; their main document directory containing hundreds of files.
Then again, people are amazed when I can access my computers from home; they think it's miraculous but it's something I've been doing for nearly 10 years now at various levels. Not to say that it isn't miraculous—it is, but in the same way it's miraculous that I can receive phone calls no matter where I go with a cell phone (which is now so ubiquitious that no one really notices anymore).