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Survey Finds Students Like Using Laptops in Class

Campus.News is reporting that The Anderson Center for Innovation in Undergraduate Education published results of a survey of the Freshmen who participated in the laptop purchase program, conducted by Rensselaer for the first time last year.

The article said, "... 83 percent of {respondents} were satisfied with their laptops. More than 81 percent said that having a laptop allowed them to communicate effectively with course instructors. In addition, 75 percent said that having a laptop enabled higher-quality interaction with their professors."

The Poly had an interesting article on the faculty forum to discuss the results of the laptop survey. It reveals some concerns that the faculty has about their ability to tailor the courses to utilize the laptops in a meaningful way. Read on for a summary of the article as well as a brief history of the Laptop Program itself....

In a related article, the Poly pointed out that the faculty are still not sure that this program is achieving its goals. In an article describing the faculty meeting where the survey was discussed, Poly reporter Terrence Brown said, "The central question of the afternoon, raised by Provost Bud Peterson, was 'Are laptops measurably improving the student learning experience?' And while no one, including the Anderson Center, could confirm this with concrete evidence, there was a consensus that the laptop initiative had not harmed the student learning experience."

The approach that all parts of the RPI community is taking toward evaluating the Laptop Program is excellent. The incorporation of laptop computer use into the classroom is another huge change in the way courses are designed. And, just as the success of the Interactive Learning initiative was hard to measure, so is the impact of laptops on course work.

At the beginning of the 1999 academic year, Rensselaer began requiring entering Freshmen to purchase IBM Thinkpad 600 laptop computers. The purpose was not only to ensure that each student had their own, modern PC, but also to allow more extensive use of computers in the classroom.

In April, The Anderson Center for Innovation in Undergraduate Education conducted a survey of the Freshmen who had received laptops throught the new program. Over four hundred of the students, nearly one third of the total population, responded to the survey.

The survey is the first large-scale attempt to gauge student satisfaction with the program.

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