dan lasota's masters in education portfolio for online innovation and design


Laptop Purchase Programs at Select Universities

4 August 2012 ed431

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:

  • Villanova University – laptop cost is included in full time tuition. Students return laptop at the end of sophomore year and are issued a new laptop for their junior and senior years which they then keep.
  • Clemson – Requires students to have a laptop. There are some hardware requirements needed to receive technical support from the campus computing support offices. There are purchase programs in place with recommended models from a few vendors.
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering – students are provided a laptop and are charged a tuition fee.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – students are required to purchase a specific laptop which comes with standard software used in the curriculum
  • Northern Michigan University – full time students are provided a laptop
  • Ithaca College – Students of the School of Business and School of Communications are required to have a laptop with standard business apps. A purchase program is provided for all students.
  • DePauw University – incoming freshmen required to purchase laptops, hardware purchase program with several vendors available
  • Harrisburg University of Science and Technology – Students are required to have a laptop that meets specific requirements
  • Ball State University Teachers College – students are required to purchase a specific brand of laptop before enrollment
  • Indiana State University – students must have a laptop as incoming freshmen
  • University of North Carolina Greenboro – students must have a laptop meeting certain hardware specifications, a hardware purchase program is available

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.

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