Laptop requirement changes face of Geneseo computing

Beginning this semester, all freshmen at Geneseo were required to bring a laptop notebook computer to school.

The decision was made by President Christopher Dahl in conjunction with Provost Katherine Conway-Turner and the Provost's Advisory Committee on Information Technology, which recommended the policy in September 2005.

Sue Chichester, director of Computing and Information Technology and a member of the committee, is excited to see the initiative in place and believes it will create more opportunities for both students and faculty.

"Basically, if a faculty member can expect each student to be able to bring a notebook computer to class, this gives the faculty the advantage to create different learning opportunities for students," she said. "I don't think teaching with notebooks in the classroom is for everyone and we're not trying to push that. The notebook requirement gives options."

Chichester expected that this new requirement did not strongly impact most incoming Geneseo students. Chichester noted that in Fall 2006, 96 percent of freshmen had laptops. She also mentioned that when follow-up calls were made to students without a computer, only about five had no plan of obtaining one in the near future.

CIT's Web site says what it believes to be to the benefits of the policy: "It enables students, faculty and staff to take advantage of learning opportunities that exist only when every student in a classroom has a laptop. It establishes a campus culture in which faculty and staffs are increasingly willing and able to explore innovative and effective classroom and co-curricular uses of information technology."

Chichester said that CIT is attempting to make the campus more compatible with the new initiative. "We have increased wireless coverage in many buildings. We are beginning to create notebook-friendly areas around campus," she said. "We also have built some collaboration areas where four people can work together with a notebook computer connected to a larger display."

While the hopes of CIT have yet to come to fruition this early in the program, some Geneseo freshmen approve of the policy. Christine Lin mentioned, "I like it because everyone benefits from having a laptop around. It's good for the professors and it's good for you." In light of residence hall overcrowding issues, freshman Giselle Munoz acknowledged that her laptop has saved much needed space in her triple. "If I brought a desktop, I wouldn't have known where to put it," she said.

Despite the advantages, the newly imposed policy has inconvenienced some. Freshman Megan Reynolds ordered a Dell laptop through the Geneseo Notebook Purchase Program offered by CIT, and she has yet to receive the item. "Dell delayed my order a couple of times," she said. "I have to download software for classes, so I think it would be really useful to have one right now," she said.

Campus-wide reaction to the laptop requirement is a mix of approval and reservations about various aspects of the policy. "I think it is more accessible when you have a laptop. You can bring it outside or to classes," said senior Ashley Jones. "But since it's a requirement, they have to make the laptop a little bit more affordable and the services more reliable to everyone."

Junior Andrew Li questioned the need of laptop in general. "I think it is forceful. I survived last two months of previous semester without a laptop. You can go to the library easily," said Li. Others argued that the requirement should not be limited to laptops only.

The argument over the practicality of the laptop requirement ultimately boils down to a debate of personal preference. Freshman Margot Terc said, "Personally it fits with me to have a laptop; it's more practical. I can carry it around anywhere. But I don't agree with the requirement where the college tells you that it can't be a desktop for the people that prefer it."