dan lasota's masters in education portfolio for online innovation and design
I was curious about what efforts universities are undertaking to get laptops into the hands of students. Several schools include laptops as part of tuition, some require students to have one (and leave the purchase up to them), some require students to purchase specific brands which come pre-loaded with software. Here are some examples:
From this brief survey I have learned that there are several approaches to laptop programs. Some schools like RPI have very specific software that are used in the curriculum. To standardize support and ability to use the curriculum software a particular laptop is used. It seems that this is very analogous to being required to purchase a certain textbook (although more pricey).
Some schools only have requirements to use certain kinds of software and the specific hardware is not important. Some of the schools above provide options for students in terms of which brand and features they want with a new machine.
I liked the program at Villanova because the laptop is rolled into the cost of the tuition and spread over four years. There is also a midway upgrade so that the laptop the student leaves campus with upon matriculation is somewhat current.
It’s notable that some institutions acknowledge that students will already have laptops and provide for the possibility that the students will want to continue using their own machines. Rather than say which approach is best I think this short survey points to different possibilities. Some of the schools above serve different degree programs and their laptop efforts reflect this intent to support their different missions.