For most college students, dead week means long days and late nights preparing for final exams. But for the members of University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Robert Winfield’s class last semester, it meant witnessing Winfield make an astounding technological breakthrough.
Students reported that on the Friday before spring semester finals, with about 10 minutes left in class, Winfield successfully made the computer-to-projector connection that he had been fiddling with for the previous 15 weeks.
“Every day, we’d come to class, watch Professor Winfield fumble around with the projector for 50 minutes, and then leave,” explained sophomore accounting major Madison Bonner. “When we finally saw his desktop come up on the screen today, everyone cheered. It was a great moment.”
Winfield’s breakthrough came when he selected “Video 3” on the projector menu, plugged his computer into the VGA converter and selected “HDMI out” from the control panel, a combination that had been eluding him all semester. For weeks, Winfield said, he was convinced that “Video 2” was the correct channel, and that he just needed to pick the right aspect ratio.
“You always expect professors to have a few technical missteps the first week or so,” said freshman film major Marcus Fisher. “But when it was fall break and we still hadn’t covered a single bit of class material, we all knew something was wrong.”
Despite the unusual circumstances, attendance numbers remained surprisingly strong, Fisher reported. “You’d expect that more people would have started skipping class, but I think we all found it pretty entertaining.”
Winfield insisted he was aware of the university’s dedicated IT staff which he could have contacted at any time, but said he was determined to solve the problem on his own.
“I had one of the first slide projectors on campus back in 1973, so I know a thing or two about cutting-edge technology,” explained Winfield. “I knew if I kept at it, I’d have this newfangled gadget up and running in no time.”
But students said Winfield wasn’t quite as tech-savvy as he claimed.
“It was sort of heartbreaking to watch him try updating Firefox or emptying the recycle bin,” said senior chemistry major Jessica Ross. “He spent a whole day just adjusting the projector’s brightness setting.”
Ross said no one was even sure what the class’s subject was. She remembered it being a freshman-level anthropology class, but some students insisted it was an upper-level physics class.
“After he finally got the projector working, he was just about to show us the syllabus, but he ran out of time.”
Sources told The DailyER that every student in the class failed the final exam, and they were excited to take Professor Winfield’s class again this semester.