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ASU launches 1:1 Student Computing Initiative


September 01, 2006

For the inaugural semester of ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus, ASU is initiating the first-of-its-kind 1:1 Student Computing Initiative in collaboration with technology leaders Apple and Dell.

The Downtown Phoenix campus 1:1 initiative will serve as a pilot program, as ASU intends to offer this program to all of its 60,000-plus students during the 2006-2007 school year.

More than a “laptop program,” 1:1 (pronounced “one to one”) at ASU is an initiative that has been designed to help students affordably acquire a laptop computer as an essential component of their educational experience.

To assist students, a customized Web site for the Downtown Phoenix campus explaining the program has been set up at (www.asu.edu/1to1).

“The 1:1 program will integrate with ASU computing support resources and will provide a direct link to ASU's instructional resources,” says Sarah Hughes, associate vice president of support services for ASU's University Technology Office (UTO). “We encourage students to take advantage of the 1:1 program. ASU has even created financial aid options to help all Downtown Phoenix students embrace mobile computing in relation to their education.”

The Downtown Phoenix campus was designed with 1:1 computing in mind – with wireless Internet access throughout the campus, an onsite computer store, Web-accessible software and podcast-ready classrooms for use with ASU iTunes U. The benefits to students include:

• The convenience of studying anywhere at any time.

• Getting help and repairs directly on campus.

• Connection to ASU's online network of scholastic services, academic tools and course resources.

To create the greatest value for students, UTO established alliances with Dell and Apple for ease of purchase, certainty of value for use, and provision of maintenance programs for all portable computers bought through the 1:1 initiative. The computers students can choose from are defined as “packages” that include an extended service warranty, onsite support, just-in-time repair, and discounted software bundles needed for classes.

Financial aid and a specific grant program targeted for 1:1 students are available for qualifying students. For those students who elect not to own a laptop, common computing resources are provided at the campus.

“Our university customers tell us that, while putting technology into the hands of their students is a priority, it is more important to ensure that the students have a positive experience with the tools they are provided,” says John Mullen, Dell's vice president of higher education and health care. “By partnering with Dell to provide technical support when and where the students need it most, ASU has created a successful student computing program.”

“The one-to-one approach would happen whether ASU did anything about it or not,” says Adrian Sannier, ASU's university technology officer. “It was already happening. Every month, thousands of students are turning to us to help them use their mobile devices to assist them in their education. Now we have a complete program with ease of purchase, commercial alliances and support service for this rapidly growing student need.”

Based upon ongoing reviews of the experiences of other institutions, as well as data from several surveys – such as that conducted by Educause (www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ecar_so/ers/ERS0405/ecm0405.pdf) – and alt^I, the Applied Learning Technologies Institute of ASU, students equipped with mobile computers can engage in learning and research wherever and whenever they choose.

Survey results confirmed that an overwhelming majority of students report owning a computer (97 percent), with 61 percent owning a laptop and 31 percent owning both a laptop and a desktop (www.sannier.net/wiki1/index.php?title=1:1_Technology_Survey).

1:1 at ASU creates a learning community in which all students can possess the technical tools and resources to excel in their individual areas of study. Although it is not a requirement, ASU is strongly recommending that students have their own laptops to take advantage of this 1:1 environment. ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus students can access the ASU scholastic network through wireless services – on campus or via the Internet from anywhere in the world.

“Teachers and students are equipped and knowledgeable,” says Samuel DiGangi, ASU associate vice president and director of the university's Applied Learning Technologies Institute. “A willingness to approach technology as a necessary tool is evident, along with concern for viable, affordable means of acquisition. Our initial survey, combined with a continuous research and evaluation protocol, engages students and faculty to guide our processes.”

Through ongoing discussions with faculty and students, and through review of the knowledge and experiences of other institutions, ASU's 1:1 program reflects a plan designed to meet the specialized needs of progressive higher education.

In addition to the hardware and support offered by the university's partners, the downtown 1:1 program includes the Downtown Phoenix campus Citrix Environment, designed to make software traditionally deployed in labs and on common computers more accessible to students using personal devices.

James Vito Palazzolo, (jamesvito@asu.edu).