Appendix 4: Pros and Cons of a "Laptop University"
The basic idea of a "laptop university" proposes
that SCSU would require all students to lease a designated laptop at an expected
cost of approximately
$900 to $1,000 per year. The laptop would come with a standard suite of software;
maintenance would be included in the lease cost. If students experience hardware
or software difficulties, they would take the machine to a designated service
location, where it would be repaired or replaced and the software would be
refreshed at no additional charge. Machines would be cycled out approximately
every three years, assuring current technology at all times. Faculty hardware
and software would match, at minimum, what students lease.
There are both
pros and cons to the idea as proposed:
- Universities believe the cost is lower.
- Students believe laptop universities
- Students believe that graduating from a "laptop
- All students have access to the same hardware and software.
- Faculty know what hardware and software students have.
- The transition
from lab to classroom to home is easier.
- Students have access
to computing resources virtually everywhere.
- The laptop requirement would
help make SCSU "look" like a high-tech
- Students adopt the cost of technology directly (a plus for the institution,
but maybe not for the students, even if financial aid will support all
or part of the costs).
- Lease costs are covered by financial aid for students
who are eligible.
- The laptop requirement could reduce the amount of money
needed to support open labs (although it has not been clear that this has
been true at
- Students could more easily bring their laptop into
a service center when maintenance was needed (compared to a desktop machine).
- The initiative toward a "laptop university" has not come from
the faculty or students.
- It is probably unlikely that students will want
to carry laptops around all day.
- There is an increased direct cost to the
- Students who already have access to a computer may not like the
- Students who do not receive financial aid may have difficulties
finding additional funds.
- Students may prefer to purchase rather than to
- Students who select majors not requiring much computing may resent
having to lease a laptop. Students who select majors that require
than the standard may also resent the requirement.
- SCSU faculty
and programs may not wish to commit to a single hardware and software standard.
- Students may prefer a desktop rather than a laptop.
- The small monitor like
those found on laptops has been associated empirically with decreased reading
comprehension, with decreased
scope and scale
of revision in writing and with diminished cognition.
will incur costs to improve the infrastructure to accommodate student laptops,
- Electrical outlets
- Network connections
- Desks and tables ergonomically correct for keyboarding
- Faculty hardware
- Computing labs or similar facilities will need
to be maintained to provide printing options and to support applications
more extensive than available
on the basic machines. Students will expect labs to offer
connectivity to the Internet and multimedia applications.
- This requirement may be particularly burdensome for part-time students
who do not qualify for financial aid.
- The temperature and humidity extremes
typical of Minnesota winters and the weight of current laptops may make
to carry them
Several alternatives to the basic laptop idea have been discussed, including
- Offering the lease of more than one type of machine (e.g., Windows and
- Setting a standard for hardware and software and requiring that
all students have access to equipment meeting these standards, then offering
(but not requirements) that meet campus standards. Students may choose
to buy, lease, or borrow.