Laptop Initiative Fact Finding Summary
May 22 2002
Report presented to the iLevel Advisory Committee by Thomas Jeffrey.
I posed five questions to three different Universities about how they chose to implement their laptop programs and received the following sets of answers. Also included are related items from FAQs, online resources, and interviews from various referenced universities.
Preamble: My name is Thomas Jeffrey, a staff member of the University of Detroit Mercy. We are exploring the idea of a student laptop program and I would like to ask you a few questions if I may.
Question one: Which vendors (other than IBM*) did you look at, and are there many who do this?
Gavin Leach, Northern Michigan University responded: We looked at IBM, Compaq, HP, Dell, Gateway, Toshiba, and NEC. The only one's with any viable programs in place were IBM and Compaq to a greater extent, Dell, and Gateway on a limited basis.
Marquita M. Poinsetta Lawrence Tech University responded: The vendor that was selected was one who is an alumni of the University; however, in the fall of 2003 we are going to open this process up for RFPs
from the following vendors - Toshiba, IBM, Gateway, Equus (local Michigan company).
Leslie Rogan Sacred Heart University responded: We have used IBM for the last two years, but are looking at Dell and Micron for our next round. All will give you a package quote if you provide them with the number of students in your program.
Question two: What were the major problems that you have encountered with its implementation, if any?
Gavin Leach, Northern Michigan University responded: We have not encountered many significant problems along the way, but this was due to substantial planning on the front-end as well as being adaptive to changing circumstances as the program was being implemented. From a vendor perspective IBM had great networking established with other universities to assist in understanding the challenge during implementation and as the program grows.
Some of the early problems did include:
a. MAC vs. PC
b. Increase in tuition and fees -- explaining that the increase in fees was not just for the laptop it also included software, support, maintenance, insurance, and infrastructure.
c. Standard vs. Choice
Marquita M. Poinsetta Lawrence Tech University responded: Prior strategic planning, prior to my taking over the initiative in Fall of 2002 the project was handled by the vendor, contract person with no
specific program leader/champion/director. This was a difficult process to take over after implementation. -- Plan, plan and plan!
University of Wisconsin-Stout overview page: Discussions regarding the initiative started in earnest in 1998. The culture at UW-Stout has historically had a strong affinity for technology. Budget forums conducted during 1998 and 1999 supported the movement of the campus in this direction, The implementation of two program-specific pilots for the Fall 2000 was endorsed through the budget hearings in 1999. While both faculty and students supported the initiative, it was surprising to learn that students were more supportive than faculty. In Fall 2000, the Faculty Senate put forth and unanimously passed the following resolution:
"The Faculty Senate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout supports the initiative to transition the campus to a digital environment for every student, staff, and faculty member. Furthermore, the Senate encourages all members of the University to assist in ensuring that infrastructures for such a digital environment are in place prior to implementation. "
Over the past two years, teams of faculty and administrators have visited other campuses in Michigan and Minnesota that have successfully implemented a laptop requirement, Committees have been formed to examine the curricular, technical and financial issues involved in requiring all students to use laptop computers. Pilot programs are being conducted with two majors during the 2000-01 academic year. The campus is currently in the process of hiring a project coordinator to oversee all aspects of the laptop program. The goal is to require all incoming freshmen to use laptop computers by the fall semester of 2002.
Leslie Rogan Sacred Heart University responded: I have only been here 2 years and the program has been in place since 1995, but some of the problems that we are currently experiencing are:
1. The current two year lease cycle is coming to an end. Some of the students who are being contacted about returning their laptops are under the false impression that the $700 a semester tech fee* that they are paying entitles them to keep the laptop. The University itself leases the laptops with the technology fee funding the program.
2. Students may choose to keep their current laptop if they so choose but have to purchase it at the fair market value. Some students do not agree that the laptop is worth what the University is asking for FMV.
3. As a result, the tech fee will be fully rolled into tuition next year so it will be seamless with the rest of the costs of attending the University.
4. All full time students at the University have to have a laptop; it is only voluntary for part time and graduate students.
* For details on Sacred Heart Universityís Tech Fee, see below.
Question three: How do you handle the issue of students placing non-university-licensed software on the laptops (bootlegs of MS Office, for example?)
Gavin Leach, Northern Michigan University responded: The students are allowed to put non-university-licensed software on the laptop. However, it must be properly licensed and if non-licensed/bootleg software is found on a laptop, it falls under violation of our student code which matters are handled through our Dean of Students disciplinary process.
Marquita M. Poinsetta Lawrence Tech University responded: The EDCC Computer Center is responsible for directing licensing issues. Each college submits their proposed software requirements (costs for software not "generic", e.g., MS Win2K, MS Office) are charged to the college. Images are created by college (e.g., College of Arch's requirements may be Archicad, Photoshop, etc. where Math/CS may be C++ and so on), last fall we have 3 different images which were installed on laptops. The Computer Help Desk Support Center (my department) is then responsible for the care and feeding of both the laptops (Tier 1 support) and students.
If the student installs software that destroys the image or corrupts the os, they bring to the help desk and we reinstall the image for their curriculum -- any personal data / software is their responsibility to backup
and/or reinstall. This is a 24 hour turnaround. Any damage issues -- student drops etc. is returned to the vendor for repair - student is charged with the damage depending upon the extent. This process (with the current vendor) can be anywhere from 1 week to 1 month. Student can be issued either a replacement and/or loaner.
Leslie Rogan Sacred Heart University responded: We donít care.
Question four: As a lease, are the students allowed to "do what they want" to the machine in terms of reconfiguring the software or even installing another OS like *BSD or Linux?
Gavin Leach, Northern Michigan University responded: Yes. As long as they use licensed software on the machines. However, when it comes to support we will tell them that we only support the Windows platform from a "help" type perspective, but will service any mechanical breakdowns.
The University of Akron FAQ: Yes. However, if the Technology Learning Support Center must re-image your hard drive in the future, your applications and data will be erased and will need to be reinstalled.
Leslie Rogan Sacred Heart University responded: Yes they can.
Question five: Was it a campus-wide rollout or did you only provide them to incoming freshman?
Marquita M. Poinsetta Lawrence Tech University responded: Initially, it was a pilot only with the College of Architecture for a year. Then, the rollout began with Arch students and new freshman. The following year this was bumped to Arch students, fresh and sophomores, and this coming fall Arch students and freshman, sophomore and juniors.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute FAQ: The Rensselaer laptop package selected for Fall 2002 will be announced in June. The laptop will be in the IBM Thinkpad "T" series, but the model has not yet been decided. Rensselaer is negotiating with IBM in order to get you the latest technology at the best value.
Incoming freshmen and third-year students will be sent forms for choosing their payment option in early June. Other students should check for details (and the form for purchasing a laptop package) on this web site.
All matriculated students at Rensselaer are entitled to purchase one Rensselaer Laptop Computer Package.
University of Akron Press Release: UA will provide IBM laptops (initially) for the entire first-year class in the University's School of Law (Fall 2000)
Leslie Rogan Sacred Heart University responded: I wasnít here at the time it was implemented, but I believe it was an opto in program that the students could either purchase or lease a laptop from various venders that we had partnered with.
R. Gavin Leach
Assc. VP for Finance and Planning
Northern Michigan University
1401 Presque Isle Avenue
Marquette, MI 49855
Phone: (906) 227-1101
Fax: (906) 227-1506
Marquita M. Poinsetta
Help Desk Director
Lawrence Technological University
T215 Technology Building
SMCP (Student Mobile Computing Program) Coordinator
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, Connecticut 06432
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute:
Northern Michigan University laptop initiative:
The University of Akron:
IBM's ThinkPad University Program:
The University of Wisconsin-Stout:
Sacred Heart University Tech Fee
$700 semester and includes the following:
1. High-end technology on a two year cycle (e.g. Juniors get a new laptop).
2. If you are enrolled in the program for four consecutive years, you get to keep your second laptop.
3. Includes a carrying case.
4. Security cable for securing the laptop in the studentís dorm room or elsewhere on campus.
5. Wireless network card. Sacred Heart University is a wireless campus.
6. All software licenses and upgrades.
7. Insurance coverage against damage and theft.
8. Full warranty.
9. On site repair (currently provided by CompUSA) with a free loaner until your laptop is repaired.
10. Group or individual training.