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Laptops Required for Freshmen 594

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the seems-like-a-good-idea-to-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Indiana State University will become the first public university in the state to require all students to have notebook computers, beginning with incoming freshmen in fall 2007. Guess which laptop is the preferred one..." I started bringing laptops to class around my Junior year. I'm unconvinced that they helped me with my grades.
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Laptops Required for Freshmen

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  • This must be stopped now. If this continues, then they may start telling students where to live, or what books to buy.
    • Just think what will happen when they start telling the freshmen what classes they have to take! The horror!
    • This must be stopped now. If this continues, then they may start telling students where to live, or what books to buy.

      On the bright side, students will most likley pay less for their laptop than they will for their books.
      • On the bright side, students will most likley pay less for their laptop than they will for their books.

        Yes, but in three years, the laptop will be so old and out of date, they'll have to purchase a new one.

        I completed my undergraduate studies 17 years ago, and let me tell you, that Calculus 101 Textbook is STILL providing me with many nights of riveting thrills and spills. I re-read it at least as often as I re-read Lord of the Rings....

  • So they can share music, movies, pr0n, all wirelessly?

    Or so they can sit in class and play online games while the prof is droning on and on?

    Why is this necessary?
    • Re:FileTrading 101 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lucabrasi999 (585141)
      Or so they can sit in class and play online games while the prof is droning on and on?

      Why is this necessary?

      About 15 minutes ago, I left my weekly project status meeting here at work. About 25% of the attendees are actively USING their laptop in the meeting. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a project leader playing Tetris during this meeting. So, if nothing else, playing games on the laptop in class will prepare the class of 2007 for their future life in the real world.


    • Or so they can sit in class and play online games while the prof is droning on and on?

      Well, at least they are in class and not in their dorm rooms skipping class to play online games *cough* not that I would know anything about that *cough*.

      Secondly, if you are in class and are playing online games, chances are your just not interested in what the professor is teaching and would be doing something else without the laptop.

      Before we had laptops, we had kids playing games on their TI calculators. Before that p
  • I'm not quite sure why this article is a big deal? As far as I know a number of schools have been requiring laptops for years. I know UNC-Chapel Hill has for maybe 5 years now (while its neighbor Duke gives incoming freshman ipods)

    ~shrug~
  • You're required to have a thunkpad.

  • Breaking News (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @10:50AM (#14826749)
    And in breaking news, laptop computer theft suddenly surpasses bicycle theft at the university. Details at eleven.
  • Thinkpad... pffft (Score:2, Interesting)

    by illtron (722358)
    I won't deny that Thinkpads are nice PC laptops, but it sounds like they're really pushing them on the students. They shouldn't give just one recommendation. They should be offering a set of basic system requirements that student laptops should meet or exceed in order to get them through four or five years of college, and give Mac, Linux and Windows recommendations, along with other software they should have. Something like this can only be attributed to the fact that IU must have gotten a sweetheart dea
    • ...they want to standardise the hardware/software configuration so they can support it?
      • Big fucking deal. They're the students' laptops, and I don't really see why it's the school's responsibility to support the students' computes. Besides, if their techs can't get a printer or a wireless network running on OS X then maybe they should seek employment elsewhere.
    • My guess is that there's probably a deal in there somewhere (as you mentioned, Lenovo) that takes advantage of the ignorance of parents who are basically footing the bill anyhow. I imagine that either mom or dad will say, "The school recommends a ThinkPad, and that's what were getting you. I don't want my little Nancy/Johnny to be behind any of the other students because we got them a computer that might not work. What's that honey? You say you like your Powerbook better? Nonsense, this new computer will wo
    • Recommendations and requirements are there to make the university IT department's life easier. They can at least have disk images handy for Windows maintenance tasks--you know, format and reinstalls!--and not worry too much about breaking things.

      Frankly, I'm disappointed. Wake me up when a university begins to require that all students at least dual-boot into a standard university Linux or BSD distribution, and that they be using the "preferred" OS when connected to the university network. That'll take

      • Who said they support the systems? The article simply says that students are required to have one, not that they will support them. If the institution doesn't own the laptop, they can't install images becaues they don't own the licenses to windows/office/etc.

        Now, if they wree forcing a standard linux install, that would be a different story, but since the article isn't titled "Linux required for Freshmen", that's not very likely.
    • it sounds like they're really pushing them on the students.

      No, they are only requiring them. Its much easier for the campus to maintain a standard student image and just reclone their computer when they hose it. The IT geeks have all of the drivers and patches stable and standard software that the students use, in the end its cheaper and for a student to go with such a program.

    • I won't deny that Thinkpads are nice PC laptops, but it sounds like they're really pushing them on the students.

      Well, as several sibling posts to this, they were probably trying to standardise on one range with an affordable lower-end to ease their support costs. I'm not comfortable with the "rabid sales pitch" of the announcement, though. Doesn't strike me as very professional when their "recommendation" sounds more like a brochure.

  • Guess which laptop is the preferred one..

    They've used Thinkpads at RPI [rpi.edu] for some time and they are great machines. The school, however, does not require you to keep the default OS/software package. You simply find yourself in trouble when your assignment requires MatLab and you don't have it installed anymore - though generally you can just borrow a friend's.

    There is nothing wrong with suggesting a laptop with a good support track record, lots of academic/scientific software available, and and wide u

    • My school used a super secret 40-bit WEP key, that they would take your laptop and enter themselves.

      Yeah, I had linux on my laptop and I didn't give the techy a root account to play with.

      That was fun.

      A bit of social engineering later (and a strong reminder that student tech fees pay his salary) and I ended up with the WEP key which at the time was something like b4d45552 or something like that (something like bigbadboss or whatever).

      I seriously hate admins of schools they're the most useless technologically
    • That would be a nasty surprise! You're told you need to have a notebook computer but it isn't mentioned you need to be running Windows or you need to have a certain application installed. Pretty soon you'll need to have a certain colour notebook.

        Whatever the needed applications are should be cross platform;Linux, Mac or Windows.
    • My question: How can they really say this? I get the idea lots of places are still recommending Thinkpads because traditonally, they have done so and been pleased with their quality and ruggedness. But all of that was before IBM sold out to Lenovo. Now, they're being mass produced in China for the first time, and all I've seen from *any* laptop assembled in China is a worse than average level of quality control.

      In fact, Apple's new MacBook Pro marks the first time one of their machines has been assemble
  • It'll be another "let's use all proprietary windows intel only tools" scam.

    I only got my laptop in the second half of my program and frankly aside from giving me something to do during class (e.g. read slashdot) it didn't help. I did most of my lab work at home and very little on the laptop at school.

    Now if this uni went the way of OSS and used proper open source networking resources then I may be in favour of it...

    But knowing most unis they're just a money pit so who do you think they'll align with.

    Tom
    • I'm curious, what was your major? In the EE/CompE dept at my school, three of us (me and my two dorm mates) were the most technical ones in our year. We had laptops and used them in various classes for work. Usually these were project based classes. We'd be programming our homework assignments in class for the CS courses and the laptops helped with some of the programming in our engineering classes as well. It was very usefull to be able to have one PC that you could take to class instead of transferin
  • Although the article reads like one big advertisment, I've always liked the thinkpads. I bought mine while the line was still under IBM. Does anyone have experience with Levano??
    • I purchased a T-43 recently from Lenovo. I found the sales guy I worked with fantastic. I started out on their web-site, but had questions. So I used their 'in-web-site-chat' thingy to contact them about questions. After a bit the guy offered to call me to further resolve my issues. No pressure, no upselling, nothing. He even spoke perfect English (no accent at all, probably American from what I could tell).

      Laptop was shipped in a timely fashion and other than being caught up in 'customs' for a bit
    • Does anyone have experience with Levano??

      Not yet. But, don't forget that most of the IBM folks in the PC division became Lenovo employees after the sale of the PCs. So, for the near future, chances are rather high that your experience with Lenovo won't be much different than your past experience with IBM (at least until all those ex-Big Bluers decide to move on to other employers).

    • It's not an advertisement, it's a press release. Advertisements are paid for. Press releases are spammed out in hopes that some news outlet with a hole to fill will print it out of desperation. Of course, if your press release somehow winds up on the front page of Slashdot as actual "news", thats an extra bonus.

      Lets check out some quotes from the press release

      "When we announced the Notebook Initiative last September, we pledged that our students would receive high quality, business-grade laptops worthy o
  • Thinkpad. Not a bad choice for a Windows/Linux laptop.

    Once Windows emulation is working well, though, I think a MacBook (Pro or not) would be a better choice. Fewer security issues, better GUI and applications, and it runs more software. Apple is sure looking good these days... :-)

    MacBooks might even be less expensive!

    • Thinkpad. Not a bad choice for a Windows/Linux laptop.

      Except that there's no way in hell you will be allowed to install linux on it. The university will require you to have a standard build so that the sysadms can slack off.

      You put linux on it and all the DRM on the lecture notes won't work right. Expell him!!
  • Through Access Connections, students and faculty will be able to seamlessly move from classes to dorm rooms

    Through the ancient and hallowed technology known as 'feet', students and faculty will be able to seamlessly move from classes to dorm rooms

    Fixed.
    • Through the ancient and hallowed technology known as 'feet', students and faculty will be able to seamlessly move from classes to dorm rooms

      You oversell the simplicity of the technology. In order to accomplish this using feet, we've got to get dressed, potentially against all sorts of different weather conditions. The shoes alone run, like $40 for a generic pair and $65 for something decent, just to get started! Then you have all the virus protection expenses incurred indirectly by the University -- peopl

  • I've never owned a notebook, but at the beginning of my first year of college I bought a Dell Axim + foldable keyboard to take notes on in class. Unfortunately, though, I just ended up loading it up with emulators and playing Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda through entire lectures. I can't imagine that it would be any different for any other college student, though I don't have a large enough sample size to be sure (at the college that I go to, most people still use paper and pencils.)

    Has anyone else had

    • No, I've had a very different experience. Here at UNC-Chapel Hill, incoming freshmen have been required to buy or own laptops for six years. I work in the Undergraduate Library and I took a class recently (great perk) and I was the *only* student (out of 60) in the class taking notes with pen and paper. Many also had iPods with microphones and were recording the lecture.
  • Will the university be paying for these laptops if students aren't able to afford them?

    Also, the decision that all students require laptops is baffling. I'm a maths with physics undergraduate and I manage perfectly well with a desktop, and to be honest, I don't think it would affect my work much if I had to do without it.
  • Will they be required to bring it with them to class? Will it have to have WiFi and a P4/G5 processor. Will it have to run windows? What happens when it gets stolen? Do you get kicked out until you buy a new one?
  • by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @10:54AM (#14826802) Homepage Journal
    Requiring a laptop will not help a student get better grades. Far too often people don't realize that a computer is just a tool which enables you to do something else more efficient. It is not the end all solution to every problem. Unless the computer is needed in the class or you suck at hand-writing notes there is no need for it (and no, IM the cute girl one row over doesn't count as a need). I've had quite a few college classes and I am willing to say less than 5% need a laptop as a course requirement. This seems more like the school is saying we are on the cutting edge because every student uses a laptop. Big whip, show me where this is definately improving grades, quality of work or anything else.
  • Now you can get a degree in Solitare!

    It might be useful if all of your class books were available in a searchable format. And it would be good if you could get access to the notes given in class, as some teachers write too fast, and immediately erase after writing.
  • An anonymous reader writes "Indiana State University will become the first public university in the state to require all students to have notebook computers, beginning with incoming freshmen in fall 2007. Guess which laptop is the preferred one..." I started bringing laptops to class around my Junior year. I'm unconvinced that they helped me with my grades.

    Bring/take, PowerBook/Chinese rebranded ThinkPad, notebook/laptop

    Its all the same.

    BTW, don't a number of universities require notebooks already? I know
  • no need to worry about viruses, adware, spyware, malware...

    as user-friendly as Windows, as secure as BSD Unix.
  • My son goes to Centennary College in NJ, and they hand out laptops to all incoming students before the first day of class. He happened to get a Thinkpad, but his friend got an HP. The whole place is wired/unwired. Don't know if it helps their learning, but it does seem to make it easier to swap email and do reports in a consistent (M$) manner.
  • The widespread use of laptop technology will leverage the power of mobile computing to provide campuswide access through the university's extensive wireless network, said Susan Powers, professor of curriculum, instruction and media technology and chairwoman of ISU's notebook implementation committee.

    "The notebook initiative gives us an opportunity to use technology to support learner-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment-centered and community-centered learning environments. It is a window of opportuni

  • Laptops don't help in lectures. I've not seen one professor who has ever asked me to bring one to a lecture, and hearing the tap-tap-tap of someone not even looking up from their screen must be distracting. People with laptops, even with best intentions, have their attention split two ways, and it doesn't work. If you want to absorb what you're being told in lectures, pen and paper, or better, pre-printed lecture notes and annotating them helps you stay focused on the lecturer.

    What the uni really wants is f

    • If you want to absorb what you're being told in lectures, pen and paper, or better, pre-printed lecture notes and annotating them helps you stay focused on the lecturer.


      Maybe that's because you have grown up attending lectures
      with pen & paper.

      I don't see why for someone who has been attending lectures with
      laptops right from primary school, & who doesn't browse or do
      other things during the lecture, a laptop isn't as less distracting
      as pen & paper.
  • The notebook initiative gives us an opportunity to use technology to support learner-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment-centered and community-centered learning environments. It is a window of opportunity for true innovation.

    ---The above statement really doesn't tell us anything IMHO.

    The problem is that there is a potential to suddenly lose all of your work on a laptop, whereas if you had written it all down, you would still have instant access to it on paper.
    I never had a laptop in college
  • I started bringing laptops to class around my Junior year. I'm unconvinced that they helped me with my grades.

    Laptops aren't supposed to "help you with your grades". Taking a hard math class isn't going to "help you with your grades" either. The purpose of university is that you learn things. Not even useful or practical things in general, but the kinds of things that you need in order to be a scholar. Computer use is in that category. And, incidentally, it happens to be even useful and practical.
  • According to this study (Google html [72.14.207.104]), students who use laptops change their study habits:
    • Student outcomes include:
      • Laptop students spend more time engaging in collaborative work than non-laptop students
      • Laptop students participate in more project-based instruction
      • Laptops lead to more student writing and to writing of higher quality
      • Laptops increase access to information and improve research analysis skills
      • Laptop students become collaborators (interact with each other about their work)
      • Lapt
  • Maybe the reason for ThinkPads (am I the only one who dislikes CamelCase?) is that they typically don't have the mid- to high-end graphics cards needed to play modern games?

    If it'll run Mathematica it'll run Solitaire, a SNES emulator, etc., just fine -- but if all of a sudden you have a bunch of students with Radeon X700's in class, expect to see ssid's named "AdHocForUT2004DuringPHYS101" in lecture halls.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has required laptops since 1999, and schools who are looking to follow suit should follow the lessons learned from RPI and other schools who already have long-standing laptop requirements. Some things to keep in mind:
    1) Even if lab classes are notebook-only, the school will need a few desktop systems in the lab for students who are having problems with their laptops.
    2) Software licensing was a huge issue at RPI, with much of the engineering department, for instance, was payi
  • I can see an arguement from a practical standpoint for requiring notebooks, but this is not the angle taken most places. Given that most courses and communications are at least partly online, without ready access to a computer you're placed at a disadvantage, nevermind the ability to network with peers.

    From an educational angle - at least in engineering - I'm not sure about the value. Engineering basics haven't changed in 100 years, and the advanced topics usually require specialty lab hardware, software, o
  • Back in my day, when I wanted journals, I'd use the mainframe terminal session to request books via the Inter-Library Service (usually stuff translated from Russian, who were the leaders in rhizobiology research). The bound journals would arrive on a truck within about a week or two, the Libraries would email me, and I would go check it out, photocopy the article I needed, then return it. "Wow, how convenient," I thought.

    Today, my wife is in her PhD. program, and when she needs a journal article, she requ
  • I started bringing laptops to class around my Junior year. I'm unconvinced that they helped me with my grades.
    But how did they help your WoW framerate?
  • by Prototerm (762512) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:23AM (#14827138)
    OK, Firsta disclaimer: When I went to a University, the only "laptop" that existed was a tray table you used when you were sick, and a "calculator" was also called a "slide rule". Anyway...

    In my opinion, there would only be one way a laptop would be useful, and that's if every one of your text books could be loaded on it electronically, thereby avoiding the need to lug books around all day to class. Of course, in the real world, this would create a problem, because publishers would put DRM on their ebooks, and make sure you couldn't buy and sell second hand texts. You have that problem to some extent now, of course. I remember a teacher who made sure to check each student's text book on the first day of class, to make sure it was the latest one. It turned out he was getting a cut from the publisher of everything sold by the campus book store in an under-the-table deal. A second teacher did the same thing, but he co-authored the book. I think he taught the Business Ethics class :)

    Anyway, I question the need for forcing students to spend even more of their hard-earned money on a specific hardware/OS combination on something that really serves no purpose. Of course, I'd say the same thing about a college education in general, but I digress. If they want to use a computer for their term papers, fine. If they want to live in the previous century and use a typewriter (they still make them, right?), then more power to them.

    I can see only very limited benefits to doing this, none of them for the student.

    And for crying' out loud, don't enable wifi or cell phone reception in the classroom, either! Students don't need it, and the teachers don't (or shouldn't) want it. Teachers have enough to worry about as is.
  • A zenith notebook was my laptop in college. It had 256k ram, 2 low density floppy drives monocrome srceen (very nice though)and no harddrive. I think it had an 8087 at 4 mhz. 2 low density floppys can hold a boot ms dos disk, that can store a few "pfs write" documents and a disk for the wordprocessor. For spreadsheets I had to go to the computer lab and us one of the windows 3.1 and lotus 123.

    The notebook was big, but it had the best keyboard of any notebook I've ever used

    Those were the days.

    bah..Thinkpads.
  • It's freshperson, you insensitive clod!
  • Useful for some (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sg3000 (87992) * <sg_public@m[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:31AM (#14827236)
    A laptop is useful for some but not for others

    I used my 17" PowerBook G4 during the two and a half years of getting my MBA*, and I found it invaluable. I used it in three ways:

    First, I converted the professor's inevitable PowerPoint presentations into PDFs and used Acrobat to take notes. (Admittedly I prefer when professors don't use PowerPoint. Do it on a marker board if you must write something. PPT is too lazy.)

    Second, I used an application called InkBook [magesw.com] along with a cheapo Wacom tablet which allowed me to do sketches and take notes which were parsed into English, a la the Newton of yore.

    Third, I would often receive case studies as a PDF, so I could quickly take notes and refer back to them during class.

    The benefit was I didn't have to carry around a folder with a bunch of paper notes, and I can refer to my notes even to this day. I'm very comfortable with using a computer as my primary tool during class, as I suspect many on Slashdot may agree.

    However, I noticed that while everyone in class had a computer, few used it the way I did.

    There was a lot of reading emails, playing games, or browsing the web during class (admittedly, when I got bored, I did that, too). Although some people took notes in PowerPoint, many people just printed stuff out and hand wrote their notes, so their laptop was just for messing around. If that's the case, then I don't see a benefit with requiring students to have a computer. If the person isn't comfortable with it, and the class isn't significantly enhanced by using it, then there's no point.

    Plus, I'd be pissed if my school forced me to use a laptop of their choosing, rather than what I believe works best for me.

    __
    *hey! before you harass me, consider my relatively low Slashdot user ID. I will accept the taunting and mockings from only 87991 other users.
  • by kg4gyt (799019)
    Are you sure thats the first. I think that the College of William and Mary will start requiring next year. Virginia Tech already requires for most of the majors.
  • by massysett (910130) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @12:20PM (#14827800) Homepage
    I started bringing laptops to class around my Junior year. I'm unconvinced that they helped me with my grades.

    For my first two years of law school I took a laptop to class. I'm utterly unconvinced that they helped me with grades. Laptops do allow students to take more verbose notes, as one can type faster than he can write. However I did not find this to be a benefit. If anything, greater verbosity to review for exams turned out to be a hinderance.

    My last year of law school I got tired of carrying around my Dell clunkster. Some people had Palms and folding keyboards that they used to take notes. I considered going this route, but decided to reject it to try an alternative on a trial basis: pens and spiral notebooks. Light, easy to carry, no technical failures. It worked great.

    On distractions: yes, sure, some people will use laptops to play games in class. These are the same people who would otherwise be daydreaming or drawing doodles. With pen and paper, I would daydream and draw doodles.

    Finally though, laptops have the potential to improve class interactions and learning experiences. In law school a few students would use IM during class. Sure, sometimes they were gossiping, but often they were helping each other with the material that was being discussed. Another neat idea would be to have a chat room for the class, going on at the same time as the lecture.

    But for the most part, class is just a waste of time anyway. Just a rehashing of reading material. In those cases laptops won't help anything.

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