Business pondering a mandatory laptop plan

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By Natalie Alcoba

Students in the school of business management may have mandatory laptops in their program as soon as fall 2002, said associate dean of business Lee Maguire.

A task force has been looking into the pros and cons of implementing the program.

Maguire said he expects a proposal to be presented to the business council by next month, and the council to approve it by September.

It would then go to academic council for final approval.

“Business expects graduates to know how to use programs on laptops,” said Maguire. “If we told businesses that students couldn’t [use laptops] they would say ‘are you sure you’re running a business school?’”

Other programs have already given approval for plugging laptops into classroom learning.

Two weeks ago, academic council passed a motion to implement mandatory laptops for information technology management students starting in fall 2002. And business management students have been participating in a program testing laptops in the classroom for the last four years.
But Peter Luk, director of business management marketing program and head of the task force is not quick to jump on the laptop bandwagon.

He said even though laptops prepare students for a wired workplace, other factors such as cost must always be considered.

“At this point nothing is definite,” said Luk. If the task force gives the go ahead, Luk confirmed the program could start by fall 2002.

Currently 60 students are participating in LINK, a guinea pig laptop program that started in 1996. Students in their first and second year of business management voluntarily lease IBM laptops for $700 each semester, which includes the cost of computer programs and internet access.

Students are grouped together and use laptop technology for assignments, presentations and exams in their core classes.
Esther Deutsch, a professor in business management, has been responsible for the administration of the LINK program. Feedback from the program’s success will be used to decide whether the computers should be made mandatory.

“Most of the students loved it,” said Deutsch.

“They were able to do things then and there.”

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