Grinnell College Faculty Laptop Program :: Memo
To: Grinnell College Faculty
From: Bill Francis, Director, Information Technology Services
Date: July 9, 2002
Subject: Expanded Laptop Program
You may recall the announcement of an experimental laptop computer program for faculty members made last December by Dean Swartz. Under that experimental program, nine faculty members received laptop computers to replace their office desktop computers, based upon proposals they submitted which provided a rationale for how a laptop would affect their teaching and research. The laptops were delivered to those faculty members during the spring semester.
Several months have passed since the laptops were delivered, sufficient time to begin to formulate some impressions of how the experiment is going and whether a laptop program can become a regular program for faculty. My impressions are that the faculty who have participated in the experiment view the laptops positively, that the ITS support teams are able to support a laptop program, and that the budget exists to expand the laptop offerings to faculty members who are interested.
What I am proposing is to fund the purchase of laptop computers to be used as replacements for computers currently on the desks of tenured, tenure track or regular continuing faculty members. However, ITS is not able to fund the purchases of all faculty likely to request laptops at once. Therefore, the laptop replacement option will be available to eligible faculty members at the time their current desktop computer is due for replacement under the standard four-year replacement cycle program. Under this plan, any tenured, tenure track or regular continuing faculty member who is scheduled to receive a replacement system this year may request a supported laptop computer as the replacement system instead of the standard laptop.
There are some details of the program that you should know before making a decision to replace your desktop system with a laptop computer.
1. ITS has defined one standard PC and one standard Macintosh laptop configuration. Faculty may select either standard configuration. A CD or DVD drive, Ethernet connector, modem, wireless network card, mouse, and full size keyboard may be included in the configuration. An extra monitor will not be included. Zip or Jazz drives will not be included unless they come with the standard configuration that is established. Details of these configurations are available upon email request to the blue or green team leaders in ITS.
2. Standard software including Microsoft Office Suite, a browser and plug-ins, and an email package will be provided on both configurations. Faculty needing any additional software should stipulate this in their request, and it will be reviewed by ITS.
3. The laptop will be in the standard four-year replacement cycle. Please note that at any given "price point" a laptop will be less powerful than a desktop computer of equivalent price. This implies a trade-off between the mobility and convenience of the laptop and its overall speed and capability. The laptops that are purchased will be more expensive, but probably less powerful than the desktop units purchased at the same time. Initially this price-performance trade-off may be invisible to laptop users. However, you should anticipate that by the fourth year the laptop may seem quite slow. This trade-off may be important to faculty members needing higher performance computers to run statistical, mathematical, or graphical applications.
4. Faculty members with more than one desktop system, for example an office computer and a laboratory computer, should expect to receive only one laptop computer under this program.
5. Faculty members will need to bring their laptops to their office or to ITS for hardware repair, software installation or problem diagnosis. ITS staff will not visit faculty homes to handle these tasks.
6. You will be asked to review the ITS "Employee Laptop Programs Guidelines for Appropriate Use." You will need to sign a copy of the agreement before you will be issued a laptop through the program.
If you have questions about the laptop program, including your eligibility to receive a laptop or your projected replacement date for your current desktop system, contact the support team leaders, i.e., Mark Watts, or Karen McRitchie, for your academic department. Information about the program is also available on the ITS web site at http://www.grinnell.edu/its/faculty.