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September 06, 1990 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-06

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 6,1990 --Page 5

MTS cannot replace
face-to-face meetings

by Daily Staff
At a large school like the Univer-
sity of Michigan, many students of-
ten, and understandably, feel more
like faceless numbers than important
individuals. And because of the ever-
expanding size of lectures - some
classes have more than 500 students
- there is little possibility profes-
sors can learn their students' names
or faces.
Most professors try to overcome
the University's impersonal nature
through the use of office hours for
discussion with students. Ambitious
students will take advantage of pro-
fessors' office hours to have their
questions answered and to get a little
individual attention. In large classes,
a classification into which most
University courses fit, office hours
are the only vehicle for personal con-
Some, such as History Prof. Sid-
ney Fine, make excellent use of
these office hours. Fine holds five
hours of office time per week -
compared to two for most professors
- and prides himself on meeting
personally with nearly all of his stu-

dents in his popular lecture courses.
But some professors' reliance on
modem technology has nearly elimi-
nated personal contact between pro-
fessors and students. Enter the
Michigan Terminal System (MTS),
the University's computer conference
network. There are some professors
who mistakenly use MTS as their
primary means to conduct relations
with their students, a process which
makes a huge university even more
impersonal and makes students even
more unrecognizable to their profes-
Political Science Prof. Raymond
Tanter is a prime example. While
Tanter rightly employs MTS to con-
duct a learning simulation in his
classes, he requires students to con-
tact him via MTS prior to individual
meetings. Want to get in touch with
Tanter? Don't bother trying face-to-
face contact; "message" him instead.
MTS may be a convenient way
for some students to contact profes-
sors. Indeed, it can be used to get a
paper topic approved or to set up an
appointment. But professors should
not use MTS as a substitute for per-

People often accuse Prof. Raymond Tanter of being hard to get a hold of
and impersonal, as he requires students message via computer him before
meeting in person.

sonal contact. Many students feel
more comfortable meeting with pro-
fessors than using the often-imper-
sonal mechanism of computing.
Professors need to be accessible to
the students they teach, and though
MTS is one important way to con-
verse with students, it should never
be used to replace one-on-one inter-
actions. Personal conversation may

seem trivial, but it is an important
way for students and professors to
get to know each other.
MTS is not evil, and it can often
be used as an easy way for students
to communicate with their profes-
sors. Still, as technology advances
professors should not forget the
most basic method of interaction -
personal contact.

A plethora of computers fill the Angell-Haven computing site making MT$
access easier than beating Northwestern in Football. But is electronic mail
replacing face-to-face contact?

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