Home » Of Note » The ‘Computerless’ Computer Lab

The ‘Computerless’ Computer Lab

From Inside Higher Ed, December 5, 2016

Colleges were once the place where many students encountered their first computer — and back then, the computer took up an entire room. Now, with computing power in every student’s book bag and pocket, some colleges are finding the standard computer lab is no longer needed.

St. Norbert College is one such example. The private Roman Catholic liberal arts college, located in De Pere, Wis., last year finished a complete renovation of its Gehl-Mulva Science Center. The last phase of the project included plans for a computer lab, but with the college about to phase in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy — requiring that all students bring their own laptops to campus — filling that lab with desktop computers didn’t seem to make sense, said Krissy Lukens, the college’s director of academic technology.

We had been noticing that students were beginning to use their own computers more,” Lukens said in an interview. “Even in their computer science classes, about half of the students would bring in their own computers.”

As it turned out, the number of students bringing their own devices to campus was higher than that anecdote would suggest, Lukens said. In fact, a full 98 percent of students were using their own laptops, the college found. Making laptop ownership a requirement meant students could use their financial aid funds to pay for computers (though the college also started a laptop scholarship program to cover the last few laptopless students).

The growing use of personal computers and, more recently, smart devices is changing how colleges offer IT services. Without having to acquire and maintain desktop computers, college IT offices are free to move those resources around and change their priorities.

Read the full article, The ‘Computerless’ Computer Lab.

Students in a BYOD lab share a large screen.