Incoming freshmen at West Liberty State College will be provided laptop computers free of charge starting next fall.
Laptop computers are required in most professions, so the college is giving students an early start, college President Robin Capehart said.
“It has become a standard tool for most trades,” he said.
Incoming freshmen will get to keep the laptops if they make it through their junior years. Students who leave school before then will be charged a prorated fee. Upperclassmen will be given the opportunity to purchase or lease computers as West Liberty transitions to the use of improved technology, which includes expanded wireless connection capabilities, Capehart said.
Robert Morgenstern, a spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers’ West Virginia chapter, said Saturday he was unaware of any other public college in the state with a similar program.
West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon requires incoming students to buy laptops, either on their own or as part of a partnership program that offers purchase discounts with computer maker Dell Inc., said Julie Keehner, West Virginia Wesleyan’s dean of students.
The cost of providing the computers under West Liberty’s two-year pilot program is slightly less than $1,000 per student. Funding for the computers has already been appropriated by the state for technology use, Capehart said.
College officials haven’t decided whether the computers will be leased or bought from a vendor, he said.
West Liberty’s existing computer labs will remain open. Faculty will receive instruction on how to improve integration of new technology into their lesson plans, Capehart said Friday.
“We are student-focused, and our goal is to put technology in the hands of our students, he said. “This demonstrates our commitment to academic excellence and to preparing our students for entry into the 21st century work force with 21st century skills.”
Information from: The Intelligencer, http://www.theintelligencer.net
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