More UMD departments add requirement for student laptops
Books, highlighters, folders and a laptop computer: All should be on a shopping list for many University of Minnesota Duluth students this summer. The Labovitz School of Business and Economics, the College of Education and Human Service Professio...
Books, highlighters, folders and a laptop computer: All should be on a shopping list for many University of Minnesota Duluth students this summer.
The Labovitz School of Business and Economics, the College of Education and Human Service Professions and the art and design department in the School of Fine Arts will require a laptop or notebook computer for the first time this fall. The College of Liberal Arts has had the requirement since fall 2004.
More than 200 colleges and universities nationwide require students to buy a laptop computer, said Nik Hassan, director of the Labovitz school's technology program and an associate professor.
"If a student were to go for an interview nowadays, the first thing they will ask you is if you are computer literate," he said. "It's to get students fit for the 21st-century workplace."
A survey UMD had done showed more than 80 percent of UMD students already had laptop computers. Students can apply for money for a laptop through financial aid, and Hassan said it's a safe assumption that money would be awarded. The UMD bookstore also offers discounted computers and software.
UMD has been telling current and potential students about the change since February. Minimum technology requirements are given for
each college at www.d.umn.edu/unirel/homepage/technology.html . Most require basic laptops with the exception of the art and design department, which asks students to bring a MacBook Pro because it better fits curriculum.
Because so many of the colleges either had the requirement or were starting it, it made sense to the College of Education and Human Service Professions, said Sue Darge, director of student affairs for that college.
"We have a lot of students migrating between different collegiate units," she said. "And I would secretly suspect ... it's nice to be able to have a reason to say, 'Mom, Dad, I need a laptop.' "
When the College of Liberal Arts began requiring laptops, a loan program was used to help students make the transition, said Pam Spencer, its director of student affairs.
"Some parents were upset about it at first, but in the long run it's been a good thing to have the upper edge," she said.
The University of Minnesota, Crookston is known as the "laptop university" because of a program it started in 1993 where every student, by paying a technology fee, was given a laptop.
Students may or may not need laptops for classroom use, but having an always-accessible source of information and knowing their way around computer software is invaluable to students, Hassan said.
"Without that ... they're just going to be disadvantaged," said Kjell Knudsen, dean of the Labovitz school. "More and more students came to our school and to UMD with their own laptops. In many ways, it has evolved naturally."
JANA HOLLINGSWORTH can be reached at (218) 279-5501 or by e-mail at jhollingsworth@