A generation ago the idea of all students having personal computation devices and being able to access a global network of collected human knowledge would have seem like something straight out of science fiction. Today it is considered as the way things are supposed to be – to have a laptop is no longer perceived as an extraordinary advantage; whereas not to have one has turned into a serious handicap, severely limiting the possibilities of a student. And American universities aim at bringing the ideal state of things a bit closer.
New colleges join the existing laptop programs or start their own ones, either offering their needy students loan laptops and tablets or offering them special conditions, making buying a new device cheaper and easier.
Some colleges offer their students laptops for very limited periods (24 hours at a time, for example, with an option of prolonging the loan), but such programs are only effective as short-term solutions for individual situations and don’t tackle the problem on the whole.
Having a laptop is especially crucial when it comes to online degrees – while having a laptop or desktop on campus makes a student’s life much easier, taking a distance course without one in our day and age is nigh impossible.
Different online schools organize their laptop programs differently. Some, like Independence University, provide a new laptop on enrollment and allow the student to keep it in case he or she manages to successfully graduate. Some include laptops into their payment plans, aiming to help those students who are incapable to pay a rather hefty cost of a new laptop upfront.
The reasons, however, remain the same – to make online courses more available and attractive for those who would either be incapable or unwilling to take one otherwise. Several years ago these programs were rather rare, but now we see an upsurge in them, as online education is getting more sophisticated and more acceptable both by potential students and employers alike.
And it is only natural for universities to stay on top of things and get ahead of times, especially when some high and middle schools are working on providing all of their students reaching a particular age with laptops or tablets and making their usage an integral part of educational process. After all, if children tend to devote inordinate amounts of time to these and similar gadgets, we might just as well make sure that at least some of this time is spent on something useful.