CIT, faculty discuss classroom implications of new laptop policy

In the upcoming academic year all freshman at Geneseo will be required to bring laptops with them. Since the decision was made this past fall no official faculty meetings had taken place to discuss this new policy. Professor Jeff Johannes and Cristina Geiger, director of the Teaching and Learning Center, scheduled an open meeting on April 19 for professors to come and talk about their concerns with the new program and voice any questions they had.

Johannes noted at the beginning of the meeting that it was meant to raise questions, and that he had no official answers himself. After several issues were brought up by the professors in attendance, including the ethics of in-class use and the issue of power and energy in each classroom, representatives from CIT gave what answers they could.

Sue Chichester, director of CIT and a member of the committee that decided on the laptop policy, expects that this program will not make much of a difference. Chichester noted that in Fall 2006, 96 percent of freshman had laptops. Also, she mentioned that when follow-up calls were made to students without a computer, only about 5 had no plan of obtaining one in the near future.

Several professors had raised the question about power sources if the laptops were going to be required in class. Chichester noted that a plan is being devised to provide better power in the library, but nothing has been discussed about the class rooms. For CIT, the biggest issue coming into the next year is the software which they will need for the laptops if in-class use increases. "I think that requiring laptops in class more often is going to be difficult because different majors and classes are going to require different programs," said junior Cory Alverson.

One of the main objectives of CIT in the upcoming months is to make the certain areas of campus more "notebook friendly," and create an overall environment more conducive to laptop use.

"I really like the idea of having more areas to use my laptop outside of my room," said freshman Laura Manno. "I use it outside of my room often, but if they're going through all of this trouble, I probably will next year."

Another concern was the future of computer labs on campus. Chichester noted that there are no plans to eliminate the labs, and that they will still be necessary for high-end software that will not fit on individual notebooks and is too expensive for students to purchase. However, due to changing technology the long term future of computer labs is unclear.

The issue of technical support also came up at the meeting. Laurie Fox, director of the HelpDesk, informed the group that after the first week of school CIT averages less than a 24 hour turn around. Also, computers purchased through Geneseo's plan with Apple and Dell can be serviced by CIT on site.

The main emphasis of the meeting was that professors need to be aware of the new policy, but ultimately it is still their decision to integrate or ban laptop use in the classroom.