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April 2011

Task Force on a Student Computing Requirement at the University of North Carolina Pembroke

Respectfully submitted by:

Anthony Curtis, Arjay Quizon, Brian McCormick, Cammie Hunt, Charles Lillie, Christopher H Ziemnowicz, Cynthia Miecznikowski, Cynthia Saylor, John Labadie, Karen Swiney, Keats Ellis, Larry Arnold, Leah Fiorentino, Lee D. Hammonds, Mark Hunt, Mary Walker, Mike Severy, Rachel B. Smith, Robert D Wolf, Sahvanna Locklear, Staci Huffman, Terry Locklear, Willis Reddick


Executive Summary

Student learning has changed dramatically since personal technology devices arrived on the doorstep of higher education environments. Following much research, deliberation, committee discussions, group work and after careful reflection this document was developed in response to a Faculty Senate charge to develop an implementation plan for a student computer requirement.  This document provides background into the plan’s development process including research questions explored, information learned and analysis of existing services and potential needs.
The Student Computer Requirement Committee was organized during the fall 2009 semester to explore the rationale for a student laptop computer requirement in support of student learning. Following information-gathering activities, the Student Computer Requirement Committee suggested that the University of North Carolina Pembroke ensure each student has the necessary tools to support ubiquitous learning. The Committee recommended to various Faculty Governance sub-committees and eventually to the Faculty Senate that an advisory group be formed to guide efforts for implementing a student computing requirement.  This recommendation was accepted by the Faculty Senate to approve a student laptop requirement and move forward with the formation of an implementation committee.  The recommendations included an endorsement of keeping the requirement as cost neutral to the student as possible.
The Student Computer Requirement Committee was re-established in the fall of 2010 to draft an implementation plan for consideration with inquiry focused on the main topics used in their previous report.  These main topics were further refined into a series of questions and were then grouped into general categories.  The general categories explored by Committee Groups included funding, implementation and policy, requirement focus and institutional impact. 
The plan developed after exploring these questions is in keeping with the charge of making a computer requirement as cost-neutral to students a possible, while closing the digital divide between the 80% plus UNCP students who report having a laptop and the approximately 20%  of students who say they are without a computer.  The plan’s core purpose is grounded in research that a personal computer fosters academic success and thus creates enhanced learning opportunities for students.  All elements of this plan are student-centered and focused on making a computer requirement for UNCP students feasible and successful.
After consideration of the needs of UNCP’s students and upon review of solutions to the digital divide at similar institutions the Student Computer Requirement Committee proposes that UNCP’s student computer requirement should be broad-based with a general learning objective of increasing digital literacy while providing tools students personally need to enhance their learning.  Implementation of a student computer requirement should focus the first year on full-time, new freshmen and encompass all undergraduate students over a four year period.  Graduate students should be considered at a later date.  A laptop computer will be required and students will register their device for use with campus systems.  UNCP faculty, if they chose, should expect students are prepared to use the laptop for in-class exercises.  While no student will be denied admission to UNCP base on not having access to a computer, when asked to bring their computer for in-class activities, the students should be held accountable.  For on-campus or off-campus part-time students, rather than requiring a computer purchase, UNCP should create a cache of laptops to serve as student loaner computers.  
UNCP’s student computer requirement must set standards yearly for acceptable student technology including a minimum standard for students who will use an existing computer, and a second standard for student purchasing a new computer.  The minimum hardware specifications must encompass computers that are no more than four years old.  Office productivity software will be the primary application used by most students.  Students will use the basic office productivity applications available in BraveMail to meet these standards or for more advanced office productivity software the Virtual Computer Lab (VCL).  Purchasing Microsoft Office productivity software should be an option while UNCP’s malware and virus protection applications are free to students.  Compliance issues would mean a minimal increase in institution costs for ADAA technologies, and these costs could be absorbed in the current E&T receipts.
            In order to keep student costs associated with a requirement at a minimum, UNCP’s student computer requirement will need to capitalize on existing student hardware.  While the cost of the computer can be covered by Financial Aid, this is more a regulatory piece.  Financial Aid awards for most will not increase as our students tend to already receive the maximum allowed.  To address the needs of those students who do not have a computer and cannot afford to purchase a unit, UNCP will need to provide a loaner computing device.  UNCP would need to buy approximately 150 units per year.  The cost to the institution per year would be $150,000.  The student E&T fee revenue would need to cover all of these loaner costs.  Using 5,000 FTE as a conservative estimate of students paying the fee, the increase in fee structure to generate $150,000 per year is $30.00 per student.
            There are some requirements to be met to fully support a student computing requirement, including a Student Technology Assistant location identified and staffed with knowledgeable individuals.  The addition of two staff members will provide the necessary support to in essence “help students help themselves.”  Both positions could be created from Educational and Technology Fee dollars based upon an additional $24.00 per year increase in the student fee.  Second, a Student Computing Service Center would offer warranty repair service for those technologies purchased through the University.  In addition, for student technologies not covered by warranties, a pay-as-you-go service could be created that offers the students non-warranty diagnostics and repair services. This receipts-funded, UNCP supplied service would provide a slate of services identical to the warranty service except students would be required to pay for parts and labor.
            Necessary faculty technology support associated with the student computer requirement necessitates moving forward with the recommendation from UNCP’s strategic planning process.  The creation of a Faculty Commons, a one-stop, faculty technology support location, would bring existing support resources along with additional instructional technology assistance together in a single location to foster greater faculty use of the student-owned technology in teaching.
            In conclusion, The Student Computer Requirement Committee recommendation is to actively promote the student computer requirement in connection with UNCP’s efforts to strive for student excellence in learning.  UNCP should consider the strongly supported rationale of “enhancing student learning” as the basic tenant for this requirement.  Following extensive information-gathering and reflective activities, members of the Student Computing Requirement Committee recommends this implementation plan to successfully begin UNCP’s efforts ensuring digital literacy for our students.  The Committee acknowledges the work of our colleagues at many UNC system schools who have already successfully implemented a student computer requirement.

Introduction

Much discussion has occurred over multiple years concerning implementation of a student computer requirement at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  This document gives substance to these past discussions by providing a detailed plan that will successfully implement such a requirement.  The plan for UNCP’s student computer requirement is based on many labors, much research, deliberation, committee discussions, group work and careful reflection. Expect to find in this document background on the plan’s development process including research questions explored, information learned, and analysis of existing services and potential needs.  Finally, the plan reflects critical design parameters including equality of technology access, student affordability, institutional efficiency and effectiveness, and most importantly, that a student computer requirement be a key component of student success and educational attainment for students at UNCP.  During this process of developing this plan, the most fundamental question repeatedly asked was, “will a computer requirement contribute to student learning?”  This plan reflects an overwhelmingly positive answer.  The research, from both national and local sources, clearly indicates that a personal computer contributes greatly to student success.
Student learning has changed dramatically since personal laptop technology arrived on the doorstep of higher education environments and forced educators to face the reality that university students expect to complete their studies any time and in any location.  With that in mind, this student computer requirement plan for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke strives to ensure each student has the necessary tools for this sort of ubiquitous learning that fosters more productive learning and greater accessibility for all students, as well as address the needs of the local community.  To reach this goal, we acknowledge that a personal laptop computer will be the essential tool to overcome constraints such as location and time, in order to support equal learning opportunities and foster individual student success in a competitive global society.
The Student Computer Requirement Committee was organized during the fall 2009 semester and continued their work throughout the spring of 2010.  Following information-gathering, the Student Computer Requirement Committee suggested the University of North Carolina at Pembroke ensure each student has the necessary tools to support ubiquitous learning. Committee members acknowledged that a personal laptop computer is an essential tool for students.  The Committee recommended to various Faculty Governance sub-committees, and eventually to the Faculty Senate, that an advisory group be formed to guide efforts for implementing a student computing requirement.  This recommendation was accepted by the Faculty Senate to support a student laptop requirement and to move forward with the formation of an implementation committee.  The proposal passed 13-2-0.  The recommendations included an endorsement to keep the requirement as cost-neutral to the student as possible.  The following inclusive report and plan are in response to this Faculty Senate Charge.


Implementation Plan Development

The Student Computer Requirement Committee began their implementation work using the series of questions explored in their previous recommendation report. These questions were then further refined into a series of sub-questions which were grouped into general topics including funding, implementation and policy, requirement focus and institutional impact.  Committee members volunteered to serve on groups to further research the following general topics and address specific questions in each area.

Table 1.  Group Topics and Questions


Category

Questions

Funding

  • Do we build our plan around a student purchase, a fee-based lease/purchase, or an institutional loaner?
  • How do we fund?
  • How do we monitor compliance, or do we?

Requirement Focus

  • Should our plan be college specific, school specific, discipline specific, general education specific or remain general in scope?
  • Is there a particular focus group of students for our requirement i.e. freshmen/all undergraduate/graduate?
  • How do we address the requirement for distance students and part-time students?

Implementation and Policy

  • Do we build our plan for a computer recommendation (must have access), a computer requirement (must have access to your own) or a computer mandate (must have access to your own specific make/model)?
  • Should the plan have a 2 year focus, 4 year focus, 6 year focus?
  • How do we connect a computer requirement to our institutional themes of Student Success and Institution of Choice?

Institutional Impact

  • Faculty Survey of potential course related use of student technology.
  • How will the yearly entry of new student technology impact institutional and discipline specific software and other technologies?
  • What would be the hardware/software standards?
  • What role will cloud technology services play and how will they impact or be impacted by new student technologies arriving yearly.
  • How do we ensure ADAA compliance?

Funding

The Funding Group’s research included communications with the University’s Financial Aid Office and Student Accounts Office to gain insight into what type of administrative processes are required to fund student purchases of computers. The Group also researched federal regulations regarding federal student aid, as well as gathered specific financial aid information regarding the students attending UNC Pembroke.  This Group found that the cost of a computer can be included in the student award provided the computer is a requirement. However, this may not mean additional dollars are awarded to the student.
The most significant obstacle the Financial Aid Office will encounter is with incorporating the cost of a computer into the student’s cost of attendance.  The cost of attendance for a student is an estimate of that student’s educational expenses for the period of enrollment. The Financial Aid Office cannot award a student more than the established cost of attendance amount.
Financial comparisons were conducted between UNCP students receiving financial aid as opposed to national data.  The group learned that during the fall of 2009, UNCP total enrollment was 6,664 and 78.3% of these students received financial aid.  UNC Pembroke students borrowed $15,235,257 in loans for the fall 2010 semester. Using last year’s data, we can assume that each financial aid student is already borrowing around $2,916 per semester.  The federal government limits the amount of loans a student may receive for an academic year and has not increased those limits since July 2008.  Most UNCP on-campus, freshmen students max out their loan eligibility for the year due to room and board costs.  Many other students are borrowing very close to their yearly loan limits. While the cost of the computer can be included in the financial aid award, this will only result in more aid or loan dollars if the student is not already receiving the maximum amount or the student has not already borrowed the maximum yearly loan allowance.
The Funding Group recommended that the university monitor compliance of the requirement. The subcommittee also recommends that the university offer some type of maintenance for the required personal laptop computers.

Table 2.  Summary of Funding Group Recommendations

  • The cost of a required computer can be included in the cost of attendance.
  • Cost of attendance serves as basis of financial aid award.
  • Over 78% of UNCP students receive financial aid or loans.
  • Most students are receiving maximum aid and are at borrowing limit.
  • A required laptop computer will generate more aid or loan dollars if the student is not receiving the maximum amount or not borrowing the maximum yearly loan allowance.
  • Monitor student compliance of the requirement.
  • Offer maintenance and repair services for required personal laptop computers.

 

Requirement Focus

The Requirement Focus Group first turned to available data to find answers for their research questions.  Secondly, this Group reviewed data from a student computing survey conducted by the Implementation Group during the fall of 2010.  Each year, UNCP participates in the ECAR, Student Computing Survey.  ECAR is the research arm of EDUCAUSE the international information technology organization for higher education.  UNCP receives an annual data set that is particular to UNCP and includes overall national data for comparison purposes.  The Group reviewed three years of data from our participation.  The student survey was crafted by the Implementation and Policy Group and was administered to UNCP students during the fall 2010 semester.
Summarizing the ECAR data, the Group found that 76.5% of UNCP students have computers with Web browsing constituting the primary use.  Blackboard use was very high at UNCP with nearly 90% of students accessing the system on a routine basis and 70% accessed the system at least once per week.  Presentation software was next in use by students, followed by standard office productivity software and finally, graphic software.  The data indicated that the majority of students’ software needs can be met with Microsoft Office functionality. 
The student survey, conducted locally during fall of 2010, revealed that 75% of our students agreed or neither agreed nor disagreed that UNCP should implement a computer requirement provided the cost could be included in the financial aid award and there were discounts available due to bulk purchasing.  Approximately 8% of students reported they did not have a computer; however with over 81% of students reported they did own a laptop computer.  Forty percent of students acknowledged purchasing a computer when entering college.  If financial aid was available to purchase a computer, 61% said they would be more likely to buy a new unit.  When asked if UNCP required students to purchase a specific computer, 29% said they would have been more likely to attend UNCP; however, approximately 50% said they would be neither more nor less likely to attend.  Twenty-one percent of student responded that they would have been less likely to attend UNCP.  An overwhelmingly percentage of students reported using a computer to complete class assignments in more than 50% of their classes.  One third of students felt that saving dollars on textbooks would make a computer purchase more affordable.  Lastly, and most importantly, the data from the student survey indicates that 88.7% of UNCP students surveyed felt that personal computer ownership would help them be more successful in college.
The Requirement Group’s research concluded that to be financially successful, a student computer requirement at UNCP must capitalize on the student’s existing technology since 81% of UNCP students own their own computers.  A computer requirement will not impose an additional expense for this majority of UNCP students.  While this number may shift a few percentage points, it appears to be fairly reliable data emerging from multiple student survey instruments.  Therefore, based on the data collected from students and faculty on our campus, the Committee’s recommendation targets the approximately 19% of students who report not owning a computer.  The financial research, while not directly linked, seems to indicate a fairly strong relationship that this 19% of student do not own a computer because of economic reasons.  Developing an alternative approach for access to a personal computer for these 19% of students would remove economic barriers while leveling the technology playing field for all undergraduate students.  This alternative approach could be a key enabler in developing a successful student computer requirement.

Table 3. Summary of Requirement Focus Group Recommendations

  • Students are heavily depended upon computer technology to complete course assignments.
  • One third of students felt that saving dollars on textbooks would make a computer purchase more affordable. 
  • 88.7% of UNCP students felt that personal computer ownership would help them be more successful in college.
  • A student laptop requirement must capitalize on the student’s existing technology.
  • 19% of students do not own computers mostly due to their inability to afford the purchase.
  • If a laptop requirement is implemented, an alternative approach to a personal purchase must be developed for 19% of UNCP students.
  • An alternative approach would remove economic barriers and level the technology play field for all undergraduates.

 

Implementation and Policy

The Implementation and Policy Group reached out to students as noted and gathered student opinion through the use of a survey, as well as through discussions in the Student Government Association meetings.  The Group concluded that personal computers such as netbooks and laptops are valuable assets to the UNCP students.  Implementing a student computing requirement would benefit UNCP students in multiple ways.  First and foremost, a computer requirement enhances student’s educational success.  Secondly, a requirement allows the associated costs to be included in the student’s financial aid considerations.  Finally, a requirement would make personal computers more affordable for students through group discounts.  
To address the research questions concerning a computer mandate, a computer requirement, a computer recommendation or providing no directive, the Implementation and Policy Group suggested a computer requirement is more desirable than a mandate for students.  A computer mandate would require all students to purchase a particular make and model of computer, making their current laptop redundant.  Instead, a computer requirement stipulates that a student must have a computer to complete their education and sets standards for student-owned computers.  Thus, a requirement provides more choice for students and may allow students to meet requirement standards with their existing computers, thereby avoiding the expense of a new computer.  When considering the third option, a computer recommendation would fail to be an improvement over UNCP’s current approach to student computing as the cost of a computer could not be included in a student’s financial aid package.  As such, a recommendation provides limited benefits for both students and the institution.   Finally, the Group determined that providing no directive for student technology lessens the tools available to both students and teachers in the classroom.
By recommending a computer requirement, the Implementation and Policy Group concluded that UNCP can ensure students have the technology that they need to succeed in college. As reported by 40% of incoming students with computers, students purchasing a new laptop when entering UNCP will save on their purchase if a computer requirement is implemented.  Computer discounts through bulk purchasing and economies of scale will thus make a computer requirement an ideal medium to provide students affordable access to a personal laptop.  In sum, the Group concluded that having a computer requirement was the most advantageous option for both the University and for UNCP students.
If implemented, the student computing requirement should focus on undergraduate students and should be staged over a 4-year period, beginning in the fall of 2012 with entering freshmen and freshman transfer students.  Since, as noted, a requirement focused on undergraduates would have the largest impact on student learning this approach would eventually positively impact graduate programs. Beginning the requirement with incoming, new students offers a number of advantages.  First, new students entering UNCP can be advised of the computer requirement allowing the issue to inform their attendance decision.  Secondly, a staged approach allows UNCP computer requirement processes and support services time to mature. Process and support can adapt and grow to meet the various needs due to a staged approach.  However, within 4 years, faculty can expect all undergraduate students to have an approved computer.  Increasing numbers of faculty can therefore begin using students’ computers for class assignments to enrich the UNCP learning environment multiple ways. 
To support the implementation process, the requirement’s hardware standards should be established so that a student who enters UNCP with a new device meeting the new standards would be able to use that same computer over a desired four-year period.  Students in this group would not have to upgrade equipment during his/her undergraduate career.  Students entering UNCP with an older machine must ensure the machine meets the existing computer hardware standards.  These students may be required to upgrade their hardware as they progress through their academic programs as requirement standards will be upgraded yearly.  By focusing on a four year implementation strategy, UNCP will place less of a burden on students and parents while accomplishing the goal of helping students acquire a laptop computer to enhance their potential for academic success.
            For their final question, the Implementation and Policy Group researched how to connect a computer requirement to UNCP’s institutional themes of Student Success and Institution of Choice?  With a focus on making UNCP an institution of choice, a Student Computer Requirement could be promoted as providing better technological access for all students.  A vast majority of UNCP’s existing students felt strongly that having a computer enhanced their education success.  Recognizing that UNCP serves as a regional institution, providing access to technology will guarantee immediate access to online course offerings and possibilities of conducting classes through webinars and video-conferencing. UNCP’s wireless infrastructure is better than most campuses and should be promoted as a part of UNCP’s efforts to prepare student technologically for the future.  In the long term, improving student success through providing access to technology will allow the University to produce higher quality graduates, which will help promote UNCP as an institution of choice for students in the region.

Table 4.  Summary of Implementation and Policy Group Recommendations

  • A student computing requirement would enhance educational success, allow associated costs in financial aid considerations, and generate additional savings on purchases through group discounts.  
  • Implementation of the student computing requirement should focus on undergraduate students and the requirement implementation should be staged over a 4-year period.
  • The requirement’s hardware standards should allow entering students with a new laptop to use that same computer over a four-year period. 
  • A student personal laptop computer requirement fits well with UNCP’s institutional themes of Student Success and Institution of Choice.

 

Institutional Impact

In an attempt to gauge the faculties’ opinion on the adoption of a person laptop computer in the academic environment, the Institutional Impact Group issued an online survey to the University faculty in the fall of 2010.  Sixty-five (14.2%) faculty members responded.  According to the survey results, there is already strong support for student laptops in the classroom.  Even without a computing requirement, 87.1% (54) faculty members allow students to use a personal laptop in the classroom.  If all students were required to have a personal laptop, 79% (49) of faculty said they would integrate the device into their course work in some way, whether it is in or out of the classroom.
Currently, 88.7% (55) of faculty require their students to use some sort of productivity software, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, during the semester.  This suggests, at a minimum, any student laptop required by the University should be capable of running productivity software.  There was also considerable use of video, audio, graphic, and web editing software ranging from 41.9% to 50% of respondents even though only 15 (24.2%) of respondents were from departments such as the arts, computer sciences and communication studies,  typically associated with use of  this technology.
Only 32.2% (20) of faculty members said they encourage their students to use the cloud computing resources available to them, such as their Sky Drive account and the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL).  This low rate probably reflects the faculty member’s lack of familiarity with these online resources.  Numerically, 35.5% (22) stated they did not know the Sky Drive name, what it was or how to use it.  The Sky Drive is connected with BraveMail, UNCP’s student email system and provides 20 gigabytes of storage available “in the cloud” for every student that has a UNCP account. Approximately 22.6% (14) of faculty responding were similarly unaware of the Virtual Computer Lab (VCL).
This Group also was interested in software availability and whether there were alternatives to individual purchases to provide student software.  UNCP has supported access to North Carolina State’s Virtual Computer Lab (VCL) for nearly two years.  Faculty, staff and student usage during this time has continued to rise.  The VCL allows remote users to open and use software without having to install the software locally.  Several disciplines have benefited from this approach, using the VCL to provide students access to specialized lab software.  In addition, the University has saved on licensing costs by using the VCL to make the software available to multiple individual users.  The main complaint concerning the existing VCL services is that the load-time for the software is far too long and thus discourages use.  If software load-time can be better addressed, the VCL has great potential to support a student computer requirement by providing software using existing licensing.  BraveMail, our student email system, is provided by Microsoft.  Microsoft has recently released Microsoft Apps as a part of BraveMail.  Students can go online and through their Web browsers access Web-based versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel productivity software.  This functionality is established and requires no additional effort by the institution or student.  These BraveMail applications could provide basic functionality for students in support of a student computer requirement, thus reducing the need for an individual student software purchase.
The Institutional Impact Group discussed the support requirement for both faculty and students if a student computer requirement was implemented.  Even though the faculty survey indicated that student computer use in support of classroom instruction was certainly viewed favorably by a major of faculty responding, additional faculty support would be needed.  One topic of discussion and a favored approach to faculty support originated several years ago as part of the University’s strategic planning efforts, the creation of a Faculty Commons for Instructional Technology.  This support could be accomplished by the Faculty Commons as it becomes the focus of the university’s commitment to digital teaching technologies and online learning.  Faculty would be encouraged to engage the Commons for resource materials, work on extended projects, participation in a variety of workshops, appointments with staff consultants, involvement in development activities, and utilization of computers, multimedia equipment, and other technologies in the teaching and learning spaces. 
Pedagogy-centered activities could improve classroom (or virtual) delivery options, and the Commons could support an array of pedagogical and instructional technology providing resources, consultation, training, and support regarding the principles and practices of using the student’s personal laptop in instruction.  Faculty could also explore effective teaching methods, redesign courses, develop curricular materials, conduct program evaluation, assess student learning, use instructional media and technologies for learning, perform usability testing, and improve classroom management.
            For student support, an expansion of existing resources would be required.  Students would need a location staffed with resources to answer questions, provide training, suggest solutions and provide at-your-elbow support in using their personal laptop computer.  They would also need greater assistance to troubleshoot and manage their personal laptop for network access, software access and functionality, as well as virus and malware detection and elimination.  It was also suggested that more robust repair, maintenance, and solution implementation could be provided on a receipt supported basis.  While support to assist students with self-help would be provided by the institution, additional services beyond these self-help services could be offer on a charge-back basis. Student would then have the option of asking for and receiving assistance as they correct their personal computer issues, or handing off the issue resolution for a reasonable charge.
Computer requirements at UNCP’s sister campuses including Appalachian State, East Carolina, Western Carolina, UNCG and UNCW were all review and discussed.   The Group also incorporated successful practices at national universities including Virginia Commonwealth University, Concord University, Michigan State University and Virginia Tech. These schools specify minimum system requirements for the machines for all students attending classes both on and off campus.  It also was found that a basic "productivity bundle" (essentially MS-Office) is usually offered or included along with virus protection (for PCs) coupled with communications protocols or connectivity standards for a specific campus. This basic "bundle" seems to be the most "marketable" aspect of the student software selection. The schools offer it pre-bundled for those machines that are purchased through the school.  The Group learned that the "buy it here, get it serviced for free here (with a loaner if need be)" is an effective marketing tool.  At many of these institutions, individual colleges or majors may have additional software requirements to meet specialized course or program needs.  The Group also discovered an interesting accessory, part of the "extra value" package for machines purchased through the school: a simple decal for the outside of the laptop with the university logo and other designs.  These decals were not expensive, further promoted the institution, provided minor scratch protection, and most importantly served as a theft determent.
This Group also explored UNCP infrastructure capabilities to support a student computer requirement.  This Group found that UNCP embarked on a major wireless expansion project in April, 2007, to expand wireless network access across most academic and some administrative buildings.  The UNCP wireless network, usually recognized as “UNCP Airnet,” is accessible to all students, faculty, staff, and registered guests.  Wireless access is available in all academic buildings except some locations in the Jones Athletic Complex.  Wireless coverage is available in the Livermore Library, Chavis UC and Annex, and all major administrative buildings including Lumbee Hall, Carter Hall, and parts of the Business Services Complex.  Student residents located in Pine and Oak Halls began enjoying wireless access beginning in the summer of 2008 and North and Belk Halls in the summer of 2009.  The new Health Professions building as well as the new student residential building, Cypress Hall, are currently under construction and will be fitted with wireless access as well.
One of the most important goals of the UNCP wireless network design is to provide a quality network that is highly accessible and reliable to students, faculty, staff, and guests.  The campus wireless system was designed to higher, voice grade in addition to data coverage.  This higher level of design resulted in an increased density of access points (AP’s) in each facility and positions the institution to support an increasing demand for wireless access from within the classroom.  Each AP is capable of comfortably supporting 20-25 devices performing routine Internet browsing.  Each academic building averages around one AP per classroom and could support normal Internet browsing for a standard class of 24 students.  Class locations routinely requiring a higher level of network bandwidth such as video streaming or heavy file downloads would need to be assessed and expanded or upgraded to accommodate the heavier load.  The current system can be cost-effectively upgraded or easily expanded to handle these types of scenarios and is well suited to support the access demands of a student computer requirement.
Vendors were invited to make presentations before the various groups including Apple, Dell, AT&T and HP, plus the Group reviewed additional vendor data.  It was learned that Cellular Companies were interested in working with universities to provide cellular coverage and also could provide the student hardware as part of the monthly cellular plan.  As part of the North Carolina State contract, these companies could not enforce a minimum service plan length as there were no penalties for an early termination.  Both Verizon and AT&T were interested in working with the institution in that they offer a number of hardware devices including a Netbook for less than $40 when coupled with a service plan.  The communication companies also provided high speed connectivity through their cellular networks and offered reduced pricing for UNCP students.
ADAA requirements specific to Section 504, were discussed and the Group learned that UNCP currently has around 500 students that are entitled to various assistive technologies.  The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires equal access to programs, services, and information for students with disabilities.  Requiring students to have a personal laptop also requires UNCP to provided assistive technologies.  UNCP currently provides access to assistive technology on stand-alone computers across campus. As part of an initiative to require students to have an electronic device to access classroom, homework, or exam administration, UNCP would be required by law to provide access through the individual devices to assistive technology for those needing these technologies.  A standard slate of assistive technologies was gathered and a solution sought for providing these assistive technologies to students.  With some additional licensing delivered through a server-based infrastructure, UNCP could meet these compliance issues associated with a student computer requirement.

Table 6.  Summary of Institutional Impact Group Recommendations

  • 87.1% of faculty allow students to use a personal laptop in the classroom.
  • 79% of faculty would integrate a student laptop into their course for both in or out of the classroom work. 
  • Student coursework most often requires productivity software including Microsoft Office.  This software is provided by Microsoft Apps available in BraveMail.  In addition, the existing Virtual Computer Lab can provide multiple software applications to students and a final option is that Microsoft Office can be purchased at substantial discounts in the University Bookstore.
  • A favored approach for needed additional faculty technology support suggests the creation of a Faculty Commons for Instructional Technology as recommended in the University’s Strategic Plan.
  • More student computer support is needed including a location staffed with resources to answer questions, provide training, suggest solutions and provide at-your-elbow support in using their personal laptop computer. 
  • UNC campuses with a student computer requirement set minimum hardware requirements and provide basic software recommendations.  Laptops and software are pre-bundled and the "buy it here, get it serviced for free here (with a loaner if need be)" is an effective marketing tool. 
  • UNCP wireless network has broad campus coverage and is designed to support the access demands of a student computer requirement.
  • Cellular Companies have broadband cellular capabilities and are interested in providing off-campus students fast data access at special pricing.
  • Must give access to assistive technology and with additional licensing UNCP can meet ADAAA compliance issues associated with a student computer requirement.

 

Conclusion
After collecting extensive data, and conducting extensive analysis the Student Computer Requirement Committee narrowed the parameters for UNCP student computer requirement.  Putting pen to paper, the various groups began crafting specific parts of an implementation plan, sharing their plan development work with other Committee members.  The final document was assembled by selected Committee members.  This planning piece was then discussed, edited and received final approval before sharing with the greater campus community.

Implemantation Plan

            The Student Computer Requirement Committee presents the following plan for implementation of a student computer requirement at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  The plan is based upon the Committee charge of making a computer requirement as cost-neutral to students a possible, while closing the digital divide between the approximately 80% plus UNCP students who report having a laptop and the approximately 20%  of students saying they are without a computer.  The plan’s core purpose is grounded in research that a student owned laptop fosters academic success and thus supports efforts to improve learning outcomes for UNCP students.  All elements of this plan are student-centered and focused on making a computer requirement for UNCP students feasible and successful.
UNCP’s student computer requirement should be broad-based with a general learning objective of increasing digital literacy while providing tools students personally need to enhance their learning. This requirement must also be closely linked to a specific learning outcome associate with UNCP’s Quality Enhancement Plan, and serve as a key enabler for faculty and students to embrace activities associated with Write to the Top.  Academic departments should have the option of designating specific hardware/software requirements for their programs.  These specific requirements must meet or exceed UNCP’s more general student laptop requirement standards.
Implementation of a student computer requirement should focus the first year on full-time, new freshmen in order for the university to learn, adapt, and adjust the requirement to foster a winning implementation for all.  A recommendation is to build the requirement yearly, for example; year two would encompass full-time freshmen and sophomores.  For the first year, transfer students designated as full-time freshman should also be included in the requirement.  In year two, transfer students designated as full-time sophomores and freshmen should be included with year three encompassing all transfer undergraduate students.   Graduate students should be considered at a later date.   As mentioned earlier, eventually graduate students and their programs will experience benefits from this undergraduate focus.  After implementation and within four years, faculty can expect students to have a device and may make provisions to include those devices to support learning activities.
A student-owned personal laptop will be required, and students will register their device for use with campus systems.  UNCP monitors student compliance by having students register their computer using an online system.  Not having a computer should not disqualify students wishing to attend UNCP; however, as is normal practice, faculty should expect students to be prepared for in-class exercises using the student-owned laptop.  Students should be held accountable when informed their laptop is required to complete a particular class session, lesson or class activity.  Faculty should announce in advance when the student’s laptop will be used for in-class activities and may request students to bring their laptop for every class period.  While no student will be denied enrollment to UNCP for not having a computer, when asked to bring their computer for in-class activities, such students should receive a failing grade for the particular class meeting if they do not comply.  Faculty should not allow nor provide any variance when the student laptop is deemed part of the class learning activity provided students were given advance notice of in-class use.
Regardless of whether students attend classes on-campus or through distance education, any full-time student should be held accountable for meeting the student computer requirement.  Any student taking an online course should be expected and be required to confirm that they have access to a personal computer, not of a public-use nature.   For on-campus or off-campus part-time students, rather than requiring a computer purchase, UNCP should create a cache of laptops to serve as student loaner computers.  These computers can be checked out to students using established checkout processes building upon established policies and fines.  Faculty teaching at a remote site may check-out laptop computers totaling up to 20% of the course enrollment.  The loan period for a faculty member is 24 hours.  The University can build this cache of computer using replaced faculty laptops recently refreshed with new machines.  When receiving a new laptop through the faculty refresh process, the department should be required to return the specific faculty laptop being replaced.  That laptop, which is three years old, goes into the part-time and one-time loaner pool until no longer functional.  These loaners can also serve to provide on-campus students a “backup” loaner laptop if their primary unit is in repair.  These loaners may be checked out by students to address a specific in-class usage.  Student checkout would be for a limited time-frame (hours), with no overnight loans.
Borrowing from several institutional models, to capitalize on student-owned hardware, UNCP’s student computer requirement must set standards yearly for the student technology.  Typically, standards include a minimum standard, which applies to a student’s existing computer, plus a standard for a new computer purchase.  This new standard is in case students plan on a new computer purchase when entering the university.  The minimum hardware specifications must encompass computers that are four years old.  As a freshman, a student may bring a four year old computer.  However, that same computer would not meet the minimum specifications as a sophomore.  Setting a minimum standard based upon four-year-old technology also ensures that if a student purchases a new computer in their freshman year, that same computer will meet the minimum hardware specifications for four years. The institution can form a standards committee of faculty, technical, and student representatives to set these yearly standards.   
As for software, first year students will be prone to use their laptop computer in composition courses as well as other general education related coursework.  These new students normally are not heavily engaged in courses in their major or minor.  This general education focus serves to potentially reduce the number and type of software applications the first year student will need or encounter.  Due to this general education focus, office productivity software will be the primary application used by most of these students.  As explained elsewhere, students may use the basic office productivity applications available in BraveMail to meet these standards.  For more advanced office productivity software functionality, students may access the software using the Virtual Computer Lab (VCL).  Purchasing of Microsoft Office productivity software should be an option for students and can be provided through the Bookstore or another student computer sales center at considerable savings.  Students would need malware and virus protection software.  To save costs and to better focus support efforts, UNCP is using Microsoft protection applications for all students.  This software is free to students.  As part of an initiative to require students to have an electronic device to access classroom, homework, or exam administration, UNCP would be required by law to give access through the individual devices to assistive technology to those needing these technologies.  A standard slate of assistive technologies was gathered, with some additional licensing delivered through a server-based infrastructure, UNCP could meet these compliance issues associated with a student computer requirement.  The increase in costs for these ADAA technologies could be absorbed in the current E&T receipts.
In order to keep student costs associated with a requirement at a minimum, UNCP’s student computer requirement will need to capitalize on existing student hardware.  A large percentage of UNCP students, higher than at most UNC campuses, are receiving financial aid.  Many of these same students are borrowing additional moneys through school loans resulting in a heavy debt load.  During semester start-up, a percentage of students do not have funds available to buy their text books.  Financial Aid is not disbursed until after classes begin so UNCP is one of a few UNC schools to establish a special charge account with the Bookstore based upon a student’s financial aid awarded.  This account provides the avenue for students to purchase texts and required course materials.  While the cost of the computer can be covered by Financial Aid, this is more a regulatory piece.  Awards for most will not increase as they are a drawing the maximum allowed.  The only way to get more dollars is to borrow.
            To assist those students who do not have a computer and cannot afford to purchase a laptop as determined by the Financial Aid offer, UNCP will need to provide a loaner laptop computer.  We must be cautious with loaners as many students will try to qualify just to have a nicer machine.  There will need to be strict financial guidelines.  The loaner laptop computer may not necessarily be of the highest quality, but they should provide the student basic functionality for office productivity software.  The computer will be loaned and returned each semester following the same guidelines as the Honor College and Teaching Fellows loaner programs, including the same penalties for damage, theft or loss of the computer.  Our UNCP student survey indicates 81% of students own laptop computers.  This is similar data as compared to the ECAR Student Computing Survey.  If UNCP, on average, enrolls 1000 freshmen, following the data percentages, 180 of these students do not have laptops.  For sake of argument, let’s say 80% cannot afford to buy a computer.  Using these numbers, UNCP would need to buy approximately 150 units per year.  A student laptop, once appropriately priced with extended warranty, accidental damage coverage, and LoJac, or another theft deterrent is added, would cost around $1,000.  All additional costs for extended warranty etc. are necessary to protect the institution against escalating costs to maintain loaner computers.  The cost to the institution per year would be $150,000.  DoIT could possibly contribute some funding per year by shifting current classrooms/lab costs and/or using different technologies.  However, to give a worst case situation, assume that E&T fee revenue would need to cover all of these loaner costs.  Using 5,000 FTE as a conservative estimate of the number of students paying the fee, the increase to generate $150,000 per year is $30.00 per student.
The Student Computer Requirement Committee recommendation is to actively promote the student computer requirement in connection with UNCP’s efforts to strive for student excellence in learning.  Promotional literature should emphasize that digitally literate students are more successful in finding jobs within their chosen profession.  UNCP’s computer requirement will serve to create digitally literate students.  Efforts should promote the technology support provided to students as a key component of our requirement building upon our personal type relationships. Students should also know having a personal computer provides the possibility to receive software certifications etc.  Our marketing efforts should also promote our wireless infrastructure which is better than most campuses.
            To fully support a student computing requirement, UNCP needs to ramp up service venues and services available to students.  First, a Student Technology Assistant Center (STAC) location needs to be identified and staffed with knowledgeable individuals.  These individuals are to assist students to ensure they are able to engage the computer to complete the instructional aspects of the requirement.  Students need additional assistance in using software as related to instruction, but more specifically need these resources to ensure a functional computer.  With this requirement, the institution is shifting the focus of a personal computer “being nice to have” to” being required to use.”  Students will be using their computer to for in-class activities and to be successful their personal laptop computer must be operational.  Handling hardware and software conflicts as well as addressing virus and malware will require dedicated support staffing.  The Committee recommends two additional staff members will be required to support a student computer requirement.  These positions would work with students to help them understand necessary steps to correct issues or to offer at-your-elbow technology learning assistance.  These staff resources, in essence, will help students help themselves, making students more computer literate which is another plus.  Because these staff resources are both technology and student focused, both positions could be created from Educational and Technology Fee dollars.  It is estimated the combined salaries, benefits and operational costs of the position would be approximately $120,000 and thus would require another anticipated $24.00 per year increase in the student fee.
A computer requirement would also require a customer service infrastructure, as well as adequate physical space, a workforce, and funding resources, to provide students with the technology support necessary for success.  First, a physical location is needed that will provide enough space to offer students both a walk-up service desk and an area to provide just-in-time and at-your-elbow one-on-one technology assistance. A behind-the-scenes workshop for software and hardware repair would be necessary to accomplish repairs. The location must be secure, networked and equipped with furniture, computers, tools and other soft and hard technologies to provide students with service and support.
Second, the newly created STAC could offer warranty repair service for those technologies purchased through the University, either through the Bookstore or the University-sponsored student computing initiative. In order for this initiative to be successful, the Student Computer Service Center must have skilled support staff. Dell and Apple Certified Technicians would provide the diagnostics and repair of hardware and software covered by the warranties covering the technologies. Computers—both Mac and PC format—would be needed to assist in software installation and repair, and additional computers would be needed to designate as loaners to students during long-term repair situations.
Third, for students desiring to hand-off their computer issues to others, a pay-as-you-go service could be developed.  While the staffing referenced earlier is focused on helping student help themselves, this service would be more turn-key in nature.  The student engages these services to correct issues and pays a fee for this hand-off service.  In addition, for student technologies not covered by varies warranties, a pay-as-you-go service could be created that offers the student non-warranty diagnostics and repair services.  These receipt-funded services will provide a slate of services identical to warranty service for student computers not cover by existing warranties.  For these non-warranty services, students will be required to pay for parts and labor, however use of these for-pay services remains a student choice. 
Building upon past strategic planning recommendations, implementation of the Faculty Commons for Instructional Technology is an innovative way to utilize both existing and requested resources and personnel in providing effective and efficient services to faculty in integrating the student-owned laptop into instruction.  The Faculty Commons could also help faculty with their present and future instructional technology needs, in residential, hybrid and totally online courses.  The Faculty Commons would be a seamless and fully integrated model for providing consultations, services, activities, events, and instructional technology resources for faculty who in turn, offer significant learning opportunities and experiences for their students.
Since the Faculty Commons will have a unity of focus, a single location, and
a collaborative process for meeting the instructional technology needs of faculty, its work ultimately affects students and their learning. The coordination of campus knowledge and experience in up-to-date technologies of the Faculty Commons will position it to be a much needed instructional technology support organization for faculty. Support costs of approximately $90,000 for creation of the Faculty Commons would need to be provided by institutional funding.

Table 7.  Implementation Plan Summary

  • The plan is based upon making a computer requirement as cost-neutral to students a possible, while closing the digital divide between the 80% of students having a laptop and the 20% of students without a computer. 
  • Grounded in research and supported by a student survey that a student owned laptop fosters academic success.
  • The student computer requirement is broad-based with a learning objective of increasing digital literacy while providing tools students personally need to enhance their learning.
  • Implementation of a student computer requirement should be for undergraduates and staged over four years, focusing the first year on full-time, new freshmen.
  • A student-owned personal laptop will be required and students will register their device for use with campus systems. 
  • No student will be rejected from attending UNCP for not having a computer however; faculty should expect students to be prepared for in-class exercises using the student-owned laptop.
  • All full-time students should be held accountable for meeting the student computer requirement.
  •  For on-campus or off-campus part-time students, rather than requiring a computer purchase, UNCP should create a cache of laptops to serve as student loaner computers. 
  • This computer cache can be created using replaced faculty laptops recently refreshed with new machines.
  • UNCP’s student computer requirement must set standards yearly for the student technology. Standards should be set for existing computers and for new computer purchases.
  • The minimum hardware specifications must encompass computers that are four years old so a new computer bought when entering UNCP as a freshman will meet the standard for 4 years.
  • Office productivity software will be the primary application with basic functionality available in BraveMail.  The Virtual Computer Lab (VCL provides more advanced office productivity software functionality/  Purchasing of Microsoft Office productivity software is an option  provided through the Bookstore at considerable savings. 
  • Provided some additional licensing UNCP could meet ADAAA compliance issues associated with a student computer requirement. 
  • UNCP’s student computer requirement will need to capitalize on existing student hardware.
  • While the cost of the computer can be covered by Financial Aid, awards for most will not increase as they are a drawing and borrowing the maximum allowed. 
  • UNCP will need to provide a loaner laptop computer for approximately 20% of freshmen that cannot afford a computer or have any available financial aid or loan options. The cost to the institution per year would be $150,000 and funding will come from an increase of $30.00 per year in the E&T fee.
  • To fully support a student computing requirement, UNCP needs to ramp up services so a Student Technology Assistant Center (STAC) location needs to be identified and staffed with knowledgeable individuals. 
  • Costs for the STAC including salaries, benefits and operational costs of the position would be approximately $120,000 and thus would require another anticipated $24.00 per year increase in the student fee.
  • For students desiring to hand-off their computer issues to others, a pay-as-you-go service could be developed. 
  • Implementation of the Faculty Commons for Instructional Technology is an innovative way to utilize both existing and requested resources and personnel in providing effective and efficient services to faculty in integrating the student-owned laptop into instruction.
  • Institutional costs for the Faculty Commons including operational expenses and salary/benefits would be $90,000. 

 

Many campuses in our state and across the nation have successfully implemented a student computer requirement.  UNCP researched these successful models to ensure enhanced student learning from a successful student computer requirement implementation.  Following extensive information-gathering and reflective activities, members of the Student Computer Requirement Committee recommend this implementation plan to successfully begin UNCP’s efforts to ensure digital literacy for our students.  Once implemented, this plan allows the University of North Carolina at Pembroke to clearly state that each student has the necessary tools to support ubiquitous learning while creating greater access to learning opportunities. Members acknowledge that a student-owned laptop computer is an essential tool supporting equal learning opportunities and fostering individual student success.  We look forward its successful implementation.

Resources

Ethical Use of Computer Technologies Policy, (2009).  Summerville House.  Retrieved January 14, 2010 from http://www.somerville.qld.edu.au/curriculum/ethics
MacDonald, C., (2002).  A guide to moral decision making.  Retrieve January 6, 2010 from http://www.ethicsweb.ca/guide/index.html
Mayenn, A., (2001).  A proposed methodology for the teaching of information technology
ethics in schools.  Education Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology, Vol 1.   Retrieved January 7, 2010 http://crpit.com/confpapers/CRPITV1Meyenn.pdf

UC Davis 2001  http://www.cnc.ucr.edu/avc/computer_ownership.pdf  

UNCP Faculty Handbook. (2009-10) http://www.uncp.edu/aa/handbook/

UNCP Student Handbook.  (2009-10) http://www.uncp.edu/sa/handbook/

University of Dayton 1998 http://campus.udayton.edu/~notebook/future%202.htm  

Addendum A

Student Computer Requirement Implementation Budget

Student Technology Assistance Center

 2- Computer Support Technicians plus
operational expenses

$120,000 yr

Funding from Student E&T Fee
$24.00 yearly increase

Student Computers

Approximately 150  loaner laptops for those unable to afford purchase

$150,000 yr

Funding from Student E&T Fee
$30.00 yearly increase

 

 

Total Student E&T fee increase

$54.00 per year

Faculty Commons

Instructional Technologist plus operational expenses

$90,000 yr

Institutional funding

 

 

 

 

 

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