Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Phasing Out Computer Labs on College Campuses

The landscape of computer labs on college campuses is changing as more and more students bring their own laptops to school every day. Colleges can save money and resources if they require students to use their own computers on campus instead of providing free access to computers in public computer labs.

Ben Terris of the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote that “the vast majority of students at four-year-colleges—83 percent—own laptops, according to Student Monitor, a market-research company.” If most students already own laptops and frequently carry them around campus every day to use in class for note taking, group work, and other assignments, it makes sense that colleges wouldn’t need to provide public computer labs.

“More than 11 percent of colleges and universities are either phasing out public computer labs or planning to do so, according to this year's survey of college technology leaders by the Campus Computing Project, released last month,” wrote Terris.

While computer labs as we know them may be eventually phased out, spaces for students to use their computers will stay in high demand, and colleges will probably begin to design them like lounges—with comfortable seating and plenty of electrical outlets—more than the labs we’ve known. Campuses may still provide expensive software to students through the campus network.

Do you agree with colleges dissolving public computer labs, or do you feel like students still need them? Has your college campus already begun the transition away from public computer labs? If so, how are students responding to the change?

Emily Howard, TestOut

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