RALEIGH — New students at Meredith College in Raleigh will be handed a laptop computer right along with their class schedule and student ID. The private women's college just joined the IBM ThinkPad University system.
Every incoming full-time student will receive an IBM ThinkPad, an HP desk jet printer and a Cisco Aeronet wireless card. Meredith is one of a few dozen IBM ThinkPad universities across the country. The silent vibration of wireless Internet access is also blanketing the campus.
"One significant advantage is that it is giving everyone a level playing field," says Karen Postma, Technology Initiative Project Manager. "Everyone will have access to the same technology, the same computers and it will be at their fingertips, so they will no longer be reliant on getting into the computer lab getting a computer. They will all have it on their desk tops, in their dorm rooms and out in the courtyard."
Dr. Rosalind Reichard, Vice-President of Academic Affairs, says the Meredith Technology Initiative has two goals.
"One is to help our students be proficient in a world that, as we all know is very technology-intensive and our global social and we want to provide them with the skills they need to live in that type of world," she says. "The second goal really is to enhance the teaching and learning environment.
"Because we believe firmly that technology can make a classroom and learning experiences outside of the classroom more intensive, more active, more involved in terms of teaching and learning," she says.
The faculty at Meredith are learning to incorporate more online discussion groups for students about class subjects as well as group projects the students can do online at their convenience.
"They definitely know exactly what each student has been given, and not having access to a computer is no longer an excuse," Postma says.
The upperclassmen will not be left out of the technological revolution. The school upgraded their common-use labs and purchased more classroom equipment. Class begins with the new laptops Aug. 22.