Queen's U students may be topless
By Ed Stack
Queen's University has proposed a plan to take its commerce department into the 21st century, but students are not sure if they want to join the ride.
The new plan, which would come into place next year, would affect 200 first-year students who would be required to lease a new laptop computer at the cost of $1,500 per year.
The deal would include all necessary software, service and an upgrade after two years. The intention to use computers in the classroom is so students can spend less time taking notes and more time participating.
However, Tom Stanley, academic affairs commissioner for Queen's Alma Mater Society, said there is mixed opinion amongst students regarding the proposed program. "There are some concerns about accessibility and the costs of implementation," he said.
Stanley said the initiative would have to receive student approval as the cost would be categorized as an ancillary fee and not part of tuition. He added there will be a referendum where only a majority vote will allow the program to go ahead.
"The laptop program will help to form a learning technology infrastructure to allow the use of new processes in learning and teaching," said Brent Gallupe, Queen's professor of management information systems.
To help students cover the costs of the proposed plan, the university is currently investigating low-cost loans provided by major Canadian banks. "We are currently working with IBM to make this a legitimate expense for students," Gallupe said.
The impetus for this program has been part of a $1 million private donation to the commerce department with a portion going towards student costs and some allocated to offset the expense of adding networking equipment to existing classrooms, Gallupe explained.
Ed Cloutier, chief information officer at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western, said the school is considering several options to improve technology in the classroom.
"We are investigating this [laptop] option to see if there is a significant benefit to providing a standardized computer to Ivey students," he said. He added if benefits are found, the business school is prepared to launch new computer programs.
Contrary to plans at Queen's, Cloutier does not believe computers have a place in the Ivey classrooms and should only be used in research, authoring and as a communicative tool.
Sam Castiglione, VP-student issues for Western's University Student's Council, said the addition of information technology is a valuable resource but current student aid models don't recognize computer purchases as academic expenses. "Programs like this limit funds and accessibility for students."