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Office of Information Technology's Role in
Supporting the Student Computer Ownership Program

2 December, 1996

To:  Richard P. Barke, Chair, Executive Board

From:  Student Computer Ownership Committee [Ed Coleman (ad-hoc member), Susan Hill (student member), Richard LeBlanc, Jim McClellan, Peter McGuire, Carolyn Ruppel, Steven Teal and Raymond Vito (Chair)]

RE:  Student Computer Ownership Initiative

ATTACHMENT: Information for Students on the Georgia Tech Student Computer Ownership Initiative

With this memo, the Student Computer Ownership Committee is submitting for your consideration Information for Students on the Georgia Tech Student Computer Ownership Initiative, an informational "booklet" intended for distribution to students. A copy of this document has been posted on the network for student comment and was also circulated to the deans for input. The Committee will summarize the comments received and forward them to the Executive Board by the end of the fall quarter.

During the course of our deliberations, a number of issues related to this initiative came up. They are summarized here as recommendations for further study or action by the Board:

1. The role of computers in education is rapidly changing. In recognition of this, the Committee recommends that the Student Computer Ownership Committee (SCOC) be made a Standing Committee of the academic faculty with periodic elections held as they are for other Standing Committees. The Executive Board should decide on the makeup and responsibilities of the SCOC. We recommend that the Committee have at least one student member and at least one ad-hoc member from O.I.T.. We also recommend that, at a minimum, the SCOC periodically re-evaluate the minimum needs and specifications found in the attached document. Other issues that might be considered: the role of clusters and coordinating required purchases of additional software, beyond the minimum bundle, which might be required by Schools and Colleges. For continuity, the current Committee is willing to serve until elections can be held.

2. To accommodate transfer and advanced placement students, we recommend that the language used to refer to the student computer ownership initiative be changed to "all freshmen, beginning with those entering in the fall of '97, and all students joining the class of 2001 and all subsequent classes shall own a computer". This wording was used in the attached document.

3. Software piracy may not be an issue if costs are kept low. Some universities require license information from students for assignments completed with a given piece of software. We recommend that all students be required to buy the minimum software package - especially if this results in a big impact on software prices.

4. Choosing the best method for distributing the minimum software bundle will need further study. Although vendors differ in what they are willing to do, several mechanisms exist and are currently being used by other universities. These include site licenses with distribution on disk or over the network and distribution on CD. In the latter method, vendor CD's may be merely bundled by Georgia Tech and re-sold, or a "Tech CD", possibly including course specific information, prepared. Site licenses generally result in the best prices and flexibility. However, some vendors who distribute software in this way require yearly renewal. Licenses can include periodic updates at nominal charge. Some vendors even offer a "graduation package" where students may "own" the software at nominal cost on graduation. Given this complexity, we recommend that the SCOC continue its study of the best method of distribution and report its findings to the Executive Board.

5. We recommend that steps be taken to ensure network access for all students, including ethernet connections in all living areas and off campus dial-in access. Related issues in on-campus student living areas, like adequate space for multiple computers with 15 inch monitors and available power will also need to be addressed. We also recommend that a computer support system, equivalent to that existing in the dorms, be created for all students.

6. Colleges should set up procedures for acting on requests from professors that students buy a piece of software not in the minimum bundle. Student and faculty input into this procedure is essential. Software is different from a text book in that it has a very short life and also could be useful in several courses across department and even college lines. Software of general utility should be brought to the attention of the SCOC for inclusion in the basic bundle. We recommend that the deans assume ultimate responsibility for additional software purchases required of students in their respective Colleges.

7. Colleges and Schools should refrain from dictating to students which of the two recommended platforms they should purchase. In addition, any required software, not in the minimum bundle, must run on both recommended platforms.

8. Software is always upward compatible but courseware developed using newer software may not run on an older version. When making assignments and developing course materials, professors need to be sensitive to the fact that students may not have the current software version. To avoid this problem, we recommend that steps be taken to insure that all faculty and students be provided with the same tools.

The Committee was unanimous in all its recommendations.

Cc	Executive Board
	Wayne Clough
	Barbara Hall
	Jim Langley
	Bob McMath
	Rosalind Meyers
	Mike Thomas
	Gordon Wishon

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Last Modified: September 11, 1998 5:00pm
Approved by External Affairs 10/23/97