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Committee discusses requiring PCs


By Joe Wetzel
Copy Editor

As part of a broad strategic plan, the new Student Computer Ownership Committee will decide this quarter whether to implement a policy that would require students to own computers.

"The Institute has developed a plan that has made some very strong statements regarding the use of educational technologies to improve the learning environment for faculty and students," stated committee chair and Iterim Associate Vice Provost and Associate Vice President for Information Technology Gordon D. Wishon.

He continued, "There's an expectation among companies which employ Tech students that our students be able to work in a collaborative technology environment."

The committee members are currently seeking student input and examining policies other schools are considering or have adopted. They are particularly interested in Virginia Tech, because it has a similar makeup of degree programs and is also a public institution.

Wishon was quick to add, however, "I don't know that [Georgia] Tech being a public institution is an issue."

The committee is also concerned with deciding whether to make student computer ownership an institute-wide requirement, or only to make it major-specific.

"Sixty to 70 percent of all Georgia Tech students own [a computer] already," estimated Graduate Student President Tom Kemp, according to an informal poll taken in classes.

A key concern is to ensure that students' computers do not become outdated. Many plans are under consideration, such as computer leasing, and rentals, noted Alex Snoeren, undergraduate student representative to the committee.

But Wishon has no desire to implement a technology fee to buy students computers.

To ensure greater flexibility, the committee would prefer to implement a multiple platform plan, which would allow for a recommended Apple computer package and a recommended IBM or IBM-compatible package.

The platform choices would largely depend on what software is most likely to be used. This issue would most likely be resolved through a survey of faculty to discern their current software needs as well as their needs in the future.

Another important issue occupying the committee is how to best support the faculty while upgrading the classroom with advanced technologies.

"We recognize some majors may have a greater dependence on computing capability than others, and therefore we're also considering the possibility of optional configurations," affirmed Wishon.

Francisco Donez, graduate student representative to the committee, believes the policy will be self-enforcing.

"I imagine that classwork will be structured with the assumption of student computer ownership," he asserted.

"No one makes you buy textbooks," countered Snoeren.

While requiring student computer ownership may decrease student reliance on computer clusters, Wishon does not believe the clusters would be eliminated.

Instead, he sees their role changing to meet the more specialized and high-performance needs of the individual departments.

Wishon stresses, however, "We're so early on in discussions of this issue... [that] no decisions have been made yet."

The committee hopes to make its recommendation to President Clough by the end of the quarter, and the goal is to implement the plan Fall Quarter 1996.

To get more information or to voice concerns, students can e-mail Alex Snoeren at gt5447b or Francisco Donez at gt5741d.

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Copyright © 1995 by Stephanie L. Goff, Editor and by the Student Publications Board