Western should have a laptop initiative

Rachel Greene, Opinions Editor

In almost every class you go to, you see a couple of things. Usually there is: a professor, students, papers, pens and as of recent years, laptops. A large majority of students on the Western Illinois University campus use them and most professors allow you to use them during class – for notes of course. While there are plenty of benefits to having laptops on campus, a few issues also remain. The main issue I’ve seen with having laptops is that not every student has the same brand, make or model. For example, last week in my biology course we had to take an online quiz, but it had to be taken on a computer with “lockdown browser” (an anti-cheating software). Unfortunately, I have the type of laptop that the software does not work with. So, I had to go to the library and take the quiz in the computer lab while there were many distractions around me. The issue I have with this is that some of my peers got to take the quiz in their quiet dorm rooms because of the laptops they have. Perhaps if everyone on campus had the same laptop, then these issues would not arise. It may be difficult to fix this issue for people my age or older, but for incoming students there could be a solution. If Western phased this program in, then in a couple of years everyone would have the same laptop and thus the same advantages. There is always the issue of cost when it comes to technology, but if laptops were included in tuition then they could also be factored into the financial aid packages of students. This would help many students to see laptops as essential, which I believe that they are, rather than a luxury. It is so much easier to type a paper wherever you are than to have to get up and go to a computer lab or library just to do the assignment. Many schools have opted for Chromebooks due to their durability and lower cost, but this often presents issues with lockdown browser, Microsoft Office and various other programs. MacBooks are a popular brand that run a higher cost, but are also compatible with many programs and types of software. At the end of the day, it would be a question of whether cost or overall functionality is more essential. The world is rapidly moving in a technological direction and we as a University must adjust accordingly. This laptop initiative could help us market ourselves to prospective students and help current students learn more effectively. If Western started this, it would draw attention to us and would make us look innovative with the times rather than a stationary university. Laptops would no longer put students who cannot afford the technology at a disadvantage, but would rather level the playing field and give all students the tools and resources to succeed. I think this initiative is something that should happen as soon as possible to benefit the future of this institution.