Brandon Hill of Daily Tech reports on Virginia Tech's College of Engineering requiring first-year students ("freshmen," in American parlance) to purchase tablet PCs and a collection of software. Students are ticked off because:
1. They are required to purchase the tablet PC, even if they already have a computer.
2. They are required to purchase a tablet PC, which costs several hundred dollars more than a plain notebook and twice as much as a desktop computer (which some prefer, because it is harder to steal).
3. They are required to purchase a collection of software that costs them $500, which includes programs from Microsoft, Autodesk, and MatLab.
Having wireless devices in seminar settings invites email checking, MSNing, and real-time blogging. So, who's the winner in this?
Instructors tend to be behind the technology curve compared to at least some of their students, and I doubt the teachers will easily switch to a tablet PC-based curriculum -- even if they exists.
The administration of the college like to feel they're progressive, but really, they're being taken for a ride by the tablet PC and software vendors. An associated professor sounds like he's doing marketing for the vendors: "Students get a great price break from all these vendors that we're talking about."
The tablet PC and software vendors are the winners, because they have the ideal market condition: a sovereign-like monopoly where (1) _only_ their products may be purchased; and (2) all their products _must_ be purchased -- costing each student an extra $700.