Tablets being forced upon VT students?
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 at 01:06AM

From Ralph Grabowski's upFront eZine:

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.


Article originally appeared on Joel Orr's World of Technology|CADCAM|PLM (
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