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UNC Freshman Line Up to Get Their Required Laptops

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CHAPEL HILL — Students atUNC-Chapel Hillare dialing in to a new way of learning. All incoming freshmen are required to have laptops next fall. This year's class got a jump start thanks to a voluntary pilot program.

Students have been lining up this summer to pick up their IBM laptop computers.

"They'll become more a part of our lives, so it's good to get us used to daily use of a laptop computer as 18 and 19-year-olds," says UNC-CH freshman David Chapman.

Carolina joins more than 100 universities around the world which have contracted withIBMto furnish computers to students and faculty. IBM and Carolina say the initiative is more than hardware.

"Where there are solutions in the collaborative learning area that can add value, they are present and in place," says Cindy McEnery with IBM Global Education. "We're really looking at it as a whole, not just as a Thinkpad."

The students say the Carolina program is a benefit.

"I was really pleased that I had this opportunity because it's a very inexpensive computer, it's a very good computer for a good price," says UNC-CH freshman Carl Fisher.

Carrying their new computers, the freshman went through a training session where they learned how to use them and configure the machines.

"I wanted to get the laptop instead of bringing a desktop, even though I could get a more powerful desktop, because the laptop offers so much portability," says UNC-CH freshman Lexie Hoerl. "I can just haul it around anywhere."

After setting up their machines, students are able to connect to the university network from their dorm and class rooms. The pilot program helps coordinators plan for the future.

"We've learned a lot -- that was the importance of what we're doing here today, and what we've done this summer," says UNC-CH Vice Chancellor Marian Moore.

Several other campuses in the UNC system are considering requiring incoming students to have computers.

UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University are also investigating the use of wireless network connections in classrooms to reduce the amount of wiring in buildings.