Monday, September 12, 2005

Why the New American University Must Go 1:1

The quill pen has special meaning in the Sannier household. It’s a symbol to my family of an education system mired in the past. When our kids were in elementary school, they’d often be at the kitchen table scrubbing away with a pencil eraser making an unholy graphite mess, on the verge of tears. “Why can’t I use my computer to do this?” they would cry out with an angst only a geek can truly appreciate.

We started calling these “quill pen” moments, in honor of the fantasy conversation we wanted to hold with the teacher in charge. In our minds, the conversation went something like this:

Boy:      Excuse me Ma'am. Will it be alright if I use a computer to write
this report?
Teacher: No son, I’m sorry, but you’ll need to handwrite this assignment.
Boy: Why is that Ma'am?
Teacher: Well son, I can’t be sure that everyone in the class has a
computer. Besides, handwriting is a critical skill, one of the
traditional cornerstones of elementary education.
Boy: But I can do a much better job and I’ll enjoy it so much more if
you allow me to use my machine. Plus I’ll be able to easily keep
the result, find it in the future, and refer to it later.
Teacher: I’m sorry son but you can’t always rely on having a computer
handy when you need to write something.
Boy: Well, thanks for keeping me safe. Will you also be requiring me to

So enough already. Isn’t it time to raise the bar? For hundreds of years, the basic educational platform has remained unchanged. For most students, in most classes, the 21st century learning platform is the same as the 19th century one – oral and written information delivery captured by pen and paper. But meeting the higher education challenges of the 21st century is going to require 21st century tools. And that’s where 1:1 comes in.

Essentially, 1:1 means every student has the ability to use a portable personal computer in the service of their education, connected to the Internet, whether they are in class or at the library; in the coffee shop or at work; at home or on the road.

Portable so its use becomes ubiquitous. Personal so each student's digital archive can become a reflection of what they know, an augmentation of their brain.

1:1 computing means delivering the services currently provided by common computing infrastructure, like that found in Computing Commons or Coor Hall, through a network of student owned laptops that connect to ASU resources and the Internet via wireless network.

If you’ve been around campus lately, you’ll know this is already happening in an ad hoc way. Lots of students, more every year, bring portable computers with them to school, and carry them to class. You see them working around the edges of Computing Commons, in the classrooms and the coffee shops. But 1:1 is not yet a platform, as the lines inside Commons and Coor will attest. We still have, build, and plan for special “computer-mediated” classrooms, where we deploy computers to every seat in the room. In the meantime though, the lion’s share of our classrooms provide students with the same equipment Oxford provided their students in 1550 – a seat in sight of the “sage on the stage”.

Is their something sacred about a laptop? Well yes and no. I say a laptop and not an Ipod (see The Duke Digital Intitiative), because the laptop is a two way device, allowing students to create content as well as access it. Will it always be a laptop? Certainly not. As technology improves, in its exponential way, the platform will too. But one of the great things about a 1:1 approach is the way it allows the University to keep its academic computing infrastructure on the cutting edge without requiring it to centrally fund it. Every year the platform can be reevaluated. Every four years you have [nearly] complete turnover.

Until professors can rely on the fact that every student has mobile access, just like the teacher in my fantasy conversation, they can’t fully integrate digital power into their pedagogy. If computing is not pervasive, if it is not a platform, then it can only supplement education. Its full potential to transform the ways in which students investigate, explore, learn and remember cannot be realized. Its a chicken/egg thing.

To date, ASU has delivered technology in the service of education primarily through the use of centralized common computing facilities. These facilities provide access to standard tools and a range of ASU developed and modified services. In this centralized mode, technology stays outside the classroom for the most part and serves only as a supplement to the traditional learning platform.

When I was an undergraduate (before the earth’s crust cooled), centralized facilities like these were the state of the art. They were gateways for students to the world of information technology. They provided students with their first intensive experiences with email, word processing, spreadsheets, the web, and software and content that supplemented their instruction. While these centralized deployments did not extend technology to the classroom in any significant way, they did – and still do – provide a way for students to make technology a part of their academic experience.

But since my undergrad days, the world has changed completely. Unlike the students of even a decade ago, today's entering freshman are no strangers to technology. Members of the "Net Generation", most of these students have grown up using a wide array of technologies in highly personal ways. For them, crossing campus to stand in line for the opportunity to work at a computer is not a leap forward – it’s a slide backward.

Advances in wireless networking and portable computing have changed the game completely. Technology is no longer inherently restricted to a supplementary role – for use only outside the classroom, in an impersonal, centralized way. It is now possible for technology to serve as the primary educational platform – for use both inside and outside the classroom, in a highly personal, mobile way.

Several years ago, in an audit prepared for the Arizona Board of Regents, ASU was praised for the progressive online experience it provided its students. But the online world has sped on, and ASU has not kept pace. A drive toward 1:1 is ASU’s opportunity to catch up and race ahead – leveraging online and mobile technologies to improve the student experience through a scalable, pervasive, technology-based platform.

Clearly there are challenges to overcome. 1:1 must be made affordable. 1:1 cannot create a financial barrier for students. In implementing 1:1, ASU will face new support challenges -- helping faculty and students leverage the new platform, helping students to manage their personal machines, and to repair or replace them when they break. Wireless coverage will have to continue to expand until it reaches every corner of the University.

There are many challenges to overcome, but the 1:1 vision is solid. To continue to serve Arizona, and be inclusive of more of its population, ASU must grow. And increasing the numbers of students in existing classes and classrooms, and increasing the numbers of teaching assistants, adjunct faculty, academic advisors, tutors and administrators – these strategies have upper limits beyond which continued proportional growth is impractical. Technology can provide a scalable answer that can increase the quality of the education we provide.

Consider a 1:1 program based on three components:

  • The 1:1 Technology Platform – providing the full range of software, technical, and support services needed to establish and sustain a network of student-owned laptops that meet the published ASU standard;

  • A redesigned – a next-generation academic portal providing consistent, comprehensive, self-service, online access to the full range of administrative and academic services necessary to fully support the student community;

  • Instructional Content Services – a set of tools, standards and services designed to assist faculty and students in the creation, capture, maintenance, and deployment of technology based instructional content.

By ensuring a common personal computing platform for every student, the 1:1 approach allows to truly be “One University in Many Places”. By taking technology to the students 1:1, ASU can scalably manage its enrollment growth, and overcome the constraints of physical space, and limited financial and human resources. Unlike centralized technology deployments, the 1:1 approach assures a greater level of access and support at a lower marginal cost for each student. It is scalable because it allows ASU to give increasing numbers of students greater access to information and services without placing proportional demands on space, personnel, or computing equipment.

For years, advanced mathematics courses required their students – in addition to pencil and paper – to bring slide rules with them to class. The advent of electronic calculators in the early 1970’s introduced the possibility for radical change. Not everyone got on board right away. I still remember my trig teacher, Mr. Bruno Smolek. Mr. Smolek was a gifted math teacher, veteran of World War II, old school all the way. My sister bought me a calculator for Christmas and I brought it to class instead of my slide rule:
"You get rid of that thing Sannier...As far as I'm concerned you can take those calculators and throw 'em in the Sea of Japan [a little jingoist our Mr Smolek, a product of his times]. We've sent men to the moon with these slide rules Sannier...What happens when its your turn to compute the orbital trajectory and you run out of batteries?

I'm making Bruno sound a little silly here (though the above is pretty close to his actual words), but he had his points. He felt that slide rules made you understand the underlying mathematics better becasue you had to have an implicit understanding of at least the magnitude of the eventual answer. His tests, which were great evaluative instruments for a slide rule class, were a snap with a calculator. So he had his points. But Bruno's objections not withstanding, the platform was raised and I would have to argue that the engineering that we do today would be out of reach if all were were equipped with were slide rules.

Today, we have a similar choice, but with a tool far more powerful and general purpose than those first calculators. Lightweight, relatively inexpensive, portable computing devices equipped with wireless networking capability are to pen and paper as the calculator was to the slide rule. Many of ASU’s students already bring these devices to campus and to class. But until ubiquitous personal computing becomes an acknowledged part of the learning platform, their value and role is limited. The bar must be raised to achieve the full value.

The impact will be profound, across all traditional areas of University planning and implementation. An instructor need not be constrained by the availability of traditional ‘computer labs’ in order to plan for instructional delivery. 1:1 makes every space a fully mediated classroom. By design the ASU campus will extend far beyond its physical boundaries. As students, faculty and researchers use digital tools and technologies with increasing sophistication and innovation, they will be transforming the practices of collaboration and communication. New forms of scholarship, research, and creativity will be produced, resulting in significant new works accessible and meaningful only in digital form.

Establishing a 1:1 computing culture will not only directly empower the learner, but dramatically change the way that instruction is designed and delivered by the faculty. Designing instruction rests upon basic assumptions. As the old assumptions — that every student arrives to class with pencil and paper – give way to the new – that every student is a skilled user of portable computing – instructors will be freed to invent new connections to content and resources.

Great teachers and students have always been, and will always be, the central elements of higher education. But if some things are timeless, others progress. Using new technology, universities can do more than match faculty and students in classrooms and laboratories. With 1:1 technology, faculty can be made more available; students can work more closely together; and the entire community can be given access to an unprecedented array of new services and learning resources. All of this designed to enhance the achievement of ASU students – achievement measured in more new skills acquired, more students graduated, more jobs filled, and more businesses created.

As one is to one.


Nancy September 13, 2005 at 7:39 AM  

AHA! THIS is how BTI (formerly known as AFIT) gets $500,000 for Vignette while AIS (formerly known as ACIT) gets a lousy $7,000 to train 30 mainframe and client-server programmers in Java/object design/distributed systems/Web. I just couldn't figure it before...

(Sorry, Adrian, for bypassing the quill vs. laptop issue for the moment, and sorry, Cat, for hopping on this like a duck on a June bug, but this is war. It's a war of ideas - not people - and the outcome will have a substantial effect on the university's ability to meet Crow's stated goals.)

First, about baggage: I've earned my bread and butter as a computer programmer/systems analyst/DBA for the better part of 30 years, earning, meantime, a BFA and MFA in studio art, and teaching, meantime, a few computer graphics and Web design classes as adjunct faculty at ASU. Computing is just my means of paying the rent. But during those years of service, I've seen a few things that make me far more emotional about outcomes than a disinterested party should be.

I hate waste.

I hate missed opportunity.

I hate fancy salesmen who take you down a rosy path that leads to THEIR fancy house, car and boat, leaving you with flimflam and excess that some unfortunate guy has to try to prune into manageable functionality.

I hate phrases like "improving business agility" and "become more streamline and automated". That's seductive sales talk and it only works on people who don't have to dig in and make things function.

I hate "Gartner for the sake of Gartner". Wouldn't they be in business to sell opinions? Do they ever have to back them up, 5 years down the road? Has anyone ever looked at that? I almost bought WorldCom stock a few years ago because ALL THE EXPERTS were saying what a great idea that was, and NO ONE was looking at the fundamentals. It's a world of flimflam.

Everyone willl respond to the call of knowledge management and the idea that "information is power". IT folks already KNOW that. We wouldn't be in IT if we didn't have some infatuation with the power of information. Those are mom-and-apple-pie statements to people in computing. They do have some allure and sales impact to business folks, though, so we need to be very very careful to separate rhetoric from deliverables. A fancy front end, per Adrian's Umazon story, may set you back years when you have to integrate it with existing data stores.

I don't know about Vignette, per se (haven't looked yet, except at their Web site, which contained more buzzwords per sentence than I think I've EVER seen) but my impression is that it was designed from the front end back. Any IT folks with more information want to chime in here?

And goshdang it, you NEED to. I'm supposed to be on vacation today, getting ready for company. But Adrian's (and President Crow's) train is not waiting for anyone. This is YOUR time to speak your piece, contribute what you know. I'm tired of doing your work for you.

(I apologize for shouting, and to Adrian for bypassing Laptop U. - hey, can staff all have laptops, too? - and Cat, for hopping on her very adroitly-written post.)


Derwin September 14, 2005 at 3:08 AM  

1:1 poses an interesting challenge to all university technology organizations. Not only in the continued development of the networking infrastructure to make it work, that is the easy part. But more importantly the need to bring the 'dynabook' alive as a critical component of the knowledge transfer and thought provoking processes that all educational institutions are about. The potential boggles the mind. The idea here is not just notebook as a window to the network, my ASU, blackboard, sakai, and the like but also the idea of the "intelligent notebook". No program could illustrate this concept better than a rather under appreciated but milestone of knowledge domain aware software -- Mathematica. This amazing piece of software can present the traditional math textbook page complete with equations, graphs and animations. But when I put my cursor on the page, I can type any mathematical expression (at least any understood within Mathematica's awareness), and presto magic! -- a result comes out! An interactive textbook … what a concept! There are others, Logicworks for digital electronics …. but when I walk into the local computer store, the educational software section is comparatively weak, and more often than not it is based upon a presentation engine tied to a back end database with limited preprogrammed quizzes. So let’s literally get ASU and Amazon together, we develop domain aware educational software, they can sell it.

Mark,  September 14, 2005 at 4:33 AM  

Umm, side-stepping the war going on above, if I may...

It seems to me that creating a learning environment that delivers “a common personal computing platform for every student” is a noble goal and one I am glad we are thinking about. Finding a way for every student to have a laptop, however, does not automatically ensure that “every student is a skilled user of portable computing” nor that every professor is.

Certainly, access to technology is a challenge for us and one we should take seriously, but it seems to me that it is just one piece of the puzzle as we look at “raising the bar”.

While a great many of our students (though by no means all) are indeed members of the “Net Generation” many of our faculty members are definitely not. If our faculty are not also trained in and comfortable with the technology at their disposal, and just as importantly (if not more so) in the pedagogical approaches that take advantage of ubiquitous technology integration, we won't be able to fully capitalize on the massive investment in time, money, and effort a 1:1 strategy will require. We will still have “quill pen” instruction despite the fact that every student and faculty member is or can be “jacked in” - wirelessly speaking, of course.

Freeing instructors “to invent new connections to content and resources” is important for those who are ready and able to move forward and simply waiting for the moment when students have universal access. I don’t think freedom is the issue for our entire faculty, however. They need to be taught how technology can enable them to teach differently and more importantly, better in a world that has left the slide rules and even calculators they learned with far behind.

Or at least that is how it looks to me. :)

Nate September 14, 2005 at 9:08 AM  

"In implementing 1:1, ASU will face new support challenges — helping faculty and students leverage the new platform, helping students to manage their personal machines, and to repair or replace them when they break."

The support issue is perhaps the single largest hurdle. Current policies *against* providing laptop support provide a chilling effect on students purchasing their own equipment.

Jon September 14, 2005 at 11:28 AM  

hmmmm interesting thought..

We push 1:1. faculty and Students are now using the latest hardware/software. Faculty and Students are now "pushing" the known "technical edge", and are ahead of the Support Staff who are asked to stay away from the "technical edge" because it's unsafe and untested.

This bodes not well for keeping our Techies trained and current on the lastest greatest, unless....... We plan for this, and allow for constant knowledge growth and developement amoung our technical staff members. Not just a quick reference to a personally purchased book to resolve a single problem, but real training.

Otherwise... we can't offer best effort, we can only hope that the answer is an easy lookup.

Val,  September 15, 2005 at 8:24 AM  

Perhaps the faculty who don't get "plugged in" will find themselves with empty classrooms.

iacnld,  September 15, 2005 at 11:13 AM  

TRAINING.. all caps... bold!.... I hope in our strategic vision that it plays a much bigger role than it has in the past 10 years. I was on the phone last week with a person who was frustrated and angry, trying to do a mail merge. Close to the breaking point they said..."You know I've had to figure this all out myself. I have to figure EVERYTHING out myself." It is the select few who can learn successfully on their own. I hope we can find time in the New American University future to teach folks technology skills that they will need. I would hope every new technology project plan would include a plan and resources for training. It would be wonderful also to provide some sort of suggested technology competancy lists (with test questions?) that could help the bosses of ASU get their folks up to speed and to hire folks who can move forward with technology... not kicking and screaming behind it. (Maybe we have something like that? HR want to comment? If so, I don't see it being used?) There is also a huge difference between training that is applied to a person's job vs general training on a technology tool. If you send 10 people to Excel training down the street who have never been, less than half can come back to their desk at ASU and SEE how to apply that training to make their work process more efficient or better. User groups can play a role in applying knowledge... but... WHO HAS TIME now! In the strategic vision... I hope we MAKE time. Applied TRAINING changes culture. And the culture that we work in, live in, learn in... is as much a part of the New American University as is the technology. AND... its harder to change than the technology.

EEK.. that sounded more heavy weight (pompus?) than I meant... but TRAINING is something that I think can play a central role in moving ASU into the future.

Katie,  September 16, 2005 at 3:22 AM  

Of course, we need to establish a 1:1 relationship through technology. Our students, our community, our friends are all using computers as an extension of themselves, or at least some of them are. And more will.

I’m a student, a technologist, an employee, a parent, a community-member, a spouse and in all these roles the computer plays a part. As far as technology goes, I’m old. I didn’t grow-up using them but in my adult life I’ve become more wedded to my computer. An illustration, I used to be able to outline my thoughts on paper. No more, I need a keyboard. Not quite there yet with drawing but if the content is text, I need a computer. I’m not alone. Soon most of us will expect our life to be interwoven with our own personal digital archive.

Of course, all of you on this forum probably work/live the same way. For those of you who encounter skeptics about the need to support a digital ASU in parallel with the physical ASU, I’d suggest you point them to readings about the Net Generation. Or explain the IPOD, or tell them to listen to the upcoming Educause webinar entitled “Technology Trends Among Teens”. OR encourage them to listen to young people who say things like “If it’s not on Amazon, I’m not buying it.” or “Oh, I’ll just get it from itunes”.

I’ll leave it to others to figure out how build the bandwidth, build the storage capacity and manage the security. I believe the financing of the personal devices/computers will be the easier part. A computer is pretty close to the cost of a textbook now; I think we can find a pricing model that will be affordable.

Once we build it, then the fun will start. ASU will be a laboratory for the 21st century community, building 21st century citizens. Through our experience we will learn to live in a shared digital space, just as we learned to live in a shared physical space. We’ll deal with shared intellectual property issues as collaborate. We will continue the conversation of learning and mentorship as we extend our connection to the learning institution after we leave it physically. We will expand the physical boundaries of ASU and we will span cultural divides. Not that we don’t do that now, but computers will a shared digital space can empower us. The people and ideas connected through the 1:1 (and 1:M) web can transform us. Enough peace, love and rock ‘n roll (technology).

marty,  September 16, 2005 at 5:15 AM  

Portable computers are a good idea but I'm not sure it is a priority. I'm reading a book called The Innovater's Dilemma which talks about why good companies sometimes fail when specific new technologies come along. The author talks about sustaining vs. disruptive technologies and how disruptive technologies initially are unprofitable and thus are not pursued by the leading companies. The companies that do develop the disruptive technologies first have to find new markets and gradually the disruptive technology overtakes the established technology in power and replaces it, leaving good companies out in the cold. I mention all this because I'm afraid it may apply to what ASU is trying to do under President Crowe. I took several classes last semester. I sent a letter to President Crowe about what I felt was a real problem in the classroom. Teachers who understand the material very well but who cannot present it in a way that is digestible. I came away believing that the time of the lecture is over. Organic Chemistry for example. A lot of new material explained in a way that leaves many gaps which makes it much harder to assimilate than necessary. Ok so we're in college and we're expected to be able to think for our selves right? But why intentionally make it harder than necessary? This kind of material should not be hard to learn (I got an A by the way so I'm not complaining for personal reasons.) There are people who are good at presenting information. These people should be recruited to create online classes (no lecture.) New material does not need to be spoon-fed to students. College should not be about learning new information. It should be about problem solving. I got much more from by organic chemistry teacher by asking him questions about assigned problems than I got from any of his lectures. I repeat, the time of the lecture is over. I was also in a biology class. In order to get students to attend the lecture we were given extra credit for using a 'clicker' to respond to multiple choice opinion questions. How dumb is that? I went to the lecture faithfully but I could have gotten an A just be studying from the lecture notes. I believe that everyone should be taking organic chemistry and biochemistry. I also believe everyone should have a clear understanding of Islam (for example.) These subjects (among others) are necessary for people in a democracy to make rational choices. We need to make college as affordable and as accessible as possible for as many people as possible. This means making maximum use of the internet and taking college down from its high horse. College still has the vestiges of privilege and class distinction that it started with and those vestiges must be discarded. Making information that every citizen needs to make informed decisions easily and cheaply accessible via the internet would be disruptive of the current higher education model, but I think it is something that can and should be done. A person could take these online classes at their own pace and then take and entrance exam if he or she wanted to pursue an area of interest at a college. I know this is pie in the sky stuff but it may be nearer than we think. And it could undermine President Crowe's New American University.

marty,  September 22, 2005 at 3:37 AM  

An article in today's New York Times tells about surfing the Web to find good hospitals and doctors for specific procedures. Hospitals have resisted public reporting but a representive of the hospital federation says 'consumer education is a part of the future.' This is part of a huge shift toward individual empowerment and responsibility made possible and inevitable by the web. The more I think about it the more I think the issue of laptops is a secondary issue. Students collect a lot of information - papers, lecture notes etc. Over time it becomes more of a burden than a help. What is needed is to go over this information to synthesize and arrange it in a way that is useful. Very few individuals have the time to do this for all of the new information they learn. We as a society need a large-scale effort to be make to synthesize and organize human knowledge and put it on the web where it can be freely accessible by anyone. This idea is and extension of the open source software idea.

pchorner,  September 22, 2005 at 12:32 PM  

I am all for students providing their own access/production device. Laptop, tablet, PDA, smartphone, etc. My warning is to not fall in the trap of creating a laundry list of specs or requirements for these devices to work. ASU years ago was on the right track when it created ASURITE. It is unfortunate that ASURITE is not followed. If we have an open systems architecture and an open format protocol, the requirements/spec list would be short. Something like 802.11b WPA minimum NIC requirement, Bluetooth, and W3C complient Java enabled browser for laptops, and WAP/Bluetooth for smaller access devices. File formats and protocols should be open standards. This way it does not matter if a student has a laptop running Mac OS, Windows, Linux, etc. The goal is not to force students tools into a single mold, it is to enable students to use their OWN tools to produce and share their product in a way that makes their endeavors readable/usable by the largest audience as possible. Requiring MS Word is not congruent to the goal. What word processor one uses should not matter. The means to a product should not matter. What matters is that the product can be shared and preserved. A student can print their product, or save it in PDF format for distribution sharing. There are even PDF readers for small formfactor devices. My point is that we should not be hung up on the tools. We should focus on open standards for universal access and information sharing. I have cited some examples, but they are just that- examples. Exploration into developing an open architecture/open standards university could result in being able to address the widest constituency and demographic as possible with valuable services and resources.

pchorner,  September 22, 2005 at 12:34 PM  

Oh yea, I would also like to see us getting out of the business of providing wireless infrastructure. Most students have cellphones. The telcos provide Internet services. Just partner with the telcos for student discounts and offload the student wireless support business to a third party. Focus on proximity based wireless services instead. Just talking WAY outside the box at the moment.

schnee September 23, 2005 at 10:11 AM  

I am going to weigh in on this 1:1 thing. I'm not in any way associated with ASU (just a former student of Adrian's stopping in to say hello). This whole idea of give every student a laptop is an amazing one. This is going to happen regardless with time, and now ASU seems to have the most PERFECT oportunity for pulling this off. I don't think, however, every student should have a laptop. Who wants to sit in a classroom where you see student upon student's head above the back of some screen? This aspect, it think for the current point in time we are, will be a disturbance. What you want is to give every student a tablet, one, however, that does convert to a laptop because both mechanisms (currently) are indespensible. There are times where the laptop functions much more productively than a tablet alone would and then there are aslo times where a tablet functions so much more productively. I can go on and on about the benifits of having a tablet, if not to allow the student to simply record notes in a familiar manner, and then have those notes instantly indexable! What I would have given to start my career as a student with this kind of technology. I would truely have a knowledge base of my acedemic life, and have that searchable for instant querries of those things I need to find about me.

As for the comment on the IT staff having to be cutting edge? I don't feel this is the case at all. There are tried and true applications, OS's and businesses today which pull this off with ease. This isn't pusing the edge of technology on a mass scale, it's using today's tried and true technology on a mass scale.

Rebecca Gau,  September 24, 2005 at 11:43 AM  

An instructors POV:

I agree that it can be disturbing to face a sea of foreheads pointing at me, fingers click clacking while I lecture. These days when I teach "on ground" I usually have at least one student transcribing notes that way.

But I have a solution -- one that does involve the students having a reilable access to technology. Its' not rocket science - I email or post my lecture notes after each class. So, the students have a reference and I encourage them to review the notes and contact me if they have questions or need clarification.

However, I do have a concern. One roadblock I have had to being as effective as I would like teaching stats online is that my preferred statistical software package (SASS's JMP) is too expensive for students to purchase. For onground classes it is less of a problem b/c I can reasonably expect the students to get to the computer lab to use the COPP - preferred SPSS. But for online, I must use something that they can easily download for free. Currently, a demo is available which works adequately, but this is a temporary solution.

Thus, as the university goes forward with 1:1 implementation, I hope that access to diverse software is not an afterthought - esp. for online classes. For example, short term educational liscensing agreements with more than one provider so that students could have 15 week access to a variety of software programs via the web. I would love to be able to actually show students the three major statistical software packages so that they can be prepared to move from one to the other as I have had to do throughout my career. Right now, that's possible but tricky. (Esp. since there are always a few students who don't have the capacity to dowload the demo's - I like the idea that 1:1 would solve those issues.)

Thanks for providing this forum!

mweiland September 28, 2005 at 10:12 AM  

From an educational access point of view, I think 1:1 will totally help those non-traditional students ASU should be going after. If all services are easily accessed, then the anxiety of admission, course selection and registration and payment, and actually taking the course will be alleviated.

To me, the 1:1 initiative is about access (to services, classes, etc.) and the remarkable (learning?) experience we want our students to have. As such, ASU needs to offer all different types of courses: online asynch. (presumably high student-to-student, student-to-instructor interaction), online correspondence (high student-to-content interaction, high student-to-instructor interaction);TV (high student-to-content interaction, possible high student-to-student interaction, medium to high student-to-instructor interaction), Hybrid (high student-to-student interaction, high student-to-instructor interaction, high student-to-content interaction) So often, the focus for teaching and learning is on the instructor: what works best for the instructor, what the instructor knows, etc. The focus needs to be on our client: the student. The student may be the 18-24 year old who is here for the "university" experience. ASU is well-equipped for this. But for the "non-traditional" student, ASU fails miserably. Today, real access to quality education does not exist for this student.

Thanks for giving us a voice! - michael

shsalik,  October 3, 2005 at 5:45 AM  

It seems to me that the discussion so far has touched on 1:1 in the narrowest of terms. If you read between the lines of Adrian’s posting and several of the responses though, I think that broader scope of what we’re trying to achieve is there just trying to emerge. Michael (mweiland) said that “To me, the 1:1 initiative is about access (to services, classes, etc.) and the remarkable (learning?) experience we want our students to have.” I know that Michael’s emphasis is on online teaching and learning and while his statement is his personal expression of his vision for 1:1, I think it provides a comprehensive summary of most of the responses before it

If we were to think of 1:1 as a pie, access in itself is the pie crust and little else. Like a pie crust, access simply provides a framework for the good stuff, the filling, or in our case, the experience we want our users to have. I understand that Michael intentionally used “students” in his comment because of the area he focuses on, but we’ve got to think more broadly there as well, students are only one of our constituencies. This puts a broader question into play, what kind of pie are we going to bake? A good deal of the conversation here has focused on providing students (better) access to materials and services but I’d argue the baking a pie specifically for students is shortsighted

1:1 computing is not simply about access, creating access is easy. What the heart of 1:1 is about is creating a framework in which each individual (1) can forge an effective, individualized, salient and mutually beneficial relationship with ASU (1) through the use of a broad array of services. If we view access as the end instead of the means, we’ll end up right back were we are now, with a lose confederation of resources that have no continuity, utility or relevance to our users.

Carl,  October 3, 2005 at 8:35 AM  

Michael makes a good point about access being a huge part of why 1:1 is so important. To me, access means access for everyone, to everything. This includes university administrative processes (enrollment, course selection, drop/add), support systems (guidance counseling, tutoring, technology instruction), and education (faculty contact, course content, peer interaction), just to name a few.

A year of assisting students in the ASU Computing Sites showed me that though many students use computers on a daily basis, many of them have only a superficial understanding of how to use technology to accomplish their academic goals. How will ASU make the diverse processes necessary for these students to be successful in a virtual environment accessible? Roaming computing assistants? Peer mentors? Learning agents? Support centers? Courses on how to be a student in the e-learning age?

It seems that the most difficult, yet powerful, aspect of the 1:1 concept will be building a virtual educational community. Web-based distributed learning is currently far from reaching its promise. E-learning guru, Roger Schank even calls it “disaster” ( It’s not really a disaster; it just has a lot of untapped potential. However, there is an important point made about the problems associated with “retrofitting” a technology-based solution with the educational components that have been used in the past. It’s like putting fossil fuel in a dilithium chamber. You just can’t get to warp factor six on 87 octane. Likewise, we can’t approach 1:1, amazondotcomification and the 100,000 new students initiative by moving old processes into a new infrastructure. We need real, “that’s crazy talk!” innovation. The ball already seems to be bouncing that way, and there are some wickedly smart and talented people here, so right now I’m happy to be sitting, wide-eyed, on the bleachers to see what crazy idea we are going to go with.

My guess is that the choice of the device (laptop, tablet) used in the 1:1 initiative will be trivial. The real challenge will be to build the virtual ASU to which it will connect. It will be a much more sophisticated process than what Amazon needed to do, as ASU has greater diversity in audience, a more difficult and profound mission, and more competing ideas.

The New American University is visionary in its goal to make education inclusive rather than exclusive. That, as Michael stated, means access. To me access isn’t an electronic device; it’s the community to which I am connected via that device. Recreating the university experience in an electronic format and making it accessible through an electronic device is, no doubt, “crazy talk”. I for one am looking forward to contributing to making it happen.

Sam,  October 3, 2005 at 4:16 PM  

Michael’s emphasis on ‘access’, Steve’s 'pie crust analogy'--1:1 computing is about creating a ‘framework’, and Carl’s ‘virtual educational community’ reference, each hit upon critical components of our realization of 1:1. Nicholas Negroponte began his presentation on the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Project at the 2005 TRETC at MIT last week emphasizing that that OLPC is an EDUCATION Project—not a Laptop project.

"It is the most important project I've ever done in my life...The idea is simple - it's to look at education. This is an education project, not just a laptop project…If you take any world problem – any issue on the planet, peace, the environment, poverty - the solution to that problem certainly includes education. And if you have a solution that doesn't include education, than it's not a solution at all."

The OLPC project places emphasis on the “learning platform”, the environment and experience —not merely the equipment and connectivity—which although are essential components, as Steve points out, they are not the ‘filling’. Negroponte’s perspective—and in particular the emphasis that OLPC places on ‘the platform’ seems quite relevant to the challenge and opportunity before us. Although the presentation has received quite a bit of press, the media coverage has been on the hardware and networking components (which are indeed intriguing). However much of the focus and emphasis of the actual presentation and the discussion that followed, was on the ‘use’--the potential of OLPC to redefine education. To reinvent teaching. To enable new forms of learning. Although the scope and scale of OLPC bring new meaning to the term ‘ubiquitous’, I believe there are many aspects of the project that relate directly to our own 1:1 discussion..and to our ultimate goals. Negroponte presents an interesting, first-hand history of ‘1:1’ —impressive accomplishments in technology implementation—each example emphasizing the ‘use’ of the equipment, rather than the hardware itself. He also draws comparison of the potential of the 1:1 ‘platform’—the “filling”, to the evolution of Wikipedia.

A podcast of the presentation is available at at
(Day One: The Hundred Dollar Laptop)...along with some images of the prototype.

ASU Design Professionals Forum » Blog Archive » Give a Monkey a Laptop and You’ll Have a Monkey with a Laptop October 4, 2005 at 9:12 AM  

[...] nier, leader of this crusade, has established this as priority one. From reading Sannier’s blog (, it seems that 1:1 computing can be summarized as a reliable technology platform, with a centralized u [...]

KG October 6, 2005 at 11:30 AM  

I'll also stay away from the "grunt" issues of laptop support and online teaching methods, though I will point out that Harry Koehnemann ove in DCST at the Poly recently drafted our laptop policy and has just submitted a paper to ASEE on our design experiences.

That aside, I want to echo the sentiments expressed in the pie analogy. The laptop is a conduit, a mode of communication and information gathering here to stay. More than half of our students out here have laptops, nobody comes to office hours anymore, but I get lots of email, forum posts, wiki updates, and IM pings each day. To address a comment above, it is not about faculty members getting trained - news for you, the students are light years ahead of where we are in terms of using the computer as a tool (I am a software engineer by trade and have been on them since 8th grade, and I am way behind). What I consider more important is teaching students how to analyze and assess the quality, patterns, and lifecycle of the content bombarding them every day. They can get the info quicker, but are not where I am in terms of incorporating the right information into the right process at the right time. We refer to it as the "Google effect" - you get a paper from a student with a dozen references on a topic that turn out to be the first page of hits on a google search of that topic - did they even assess what they are looking at? Can they? I could go on with lots of other examples...but the pie thing got me hungry.

harry,  October 10, 2005 at 8:29 AM  

Indiana institutes a university-wide laptop requirement. And, offers free laptops to high school students with GPA 3.0 or higher.

Jeni October 12, 2005 at 6:45 PM  

How many students will soon be eating ramen to save up for one of these

and clamoring for video download services on their class lectures?

Nancy October 14, 2005 at 5:22 PM  

Man, what a great idea... Can I have video download of Feynman lectures? Not that I'd understand them, but I would certainly WATCH them.

bruce,  October 18, 2005 at 11:28 AM  

UNC has a laptop requirement. Check out their full-color pdf brochure.

University of Florida also has a laptop requirement with requirements by college.

UNCC does it by college.

Sam,  November 22, 2005 at 2:31 PM  

Interesting update on the One Laptop Per Child Project. An Eight-minute, up close video "documentary" of a working prototype of Nicholas Negroponte's $100 laptop, which premiered yesterday at the WSIS summit in Tunis

gregw,  February 27, 2006 at 11:46 AM  

Concerning what you said about the laptop.

"Portable so its use becomes ubiquitous. Personal so each student’s digital archive can become a reflection of what they know, an augmentation of their brain.".

There are two things here that we need to think about when it comes to providing services for 1:1.

The first is that the students digital archive needs to be backed up or stored in a different location than on the laptop itself. Can you image the "techno shock" if you had kept all of your personal records for years as a student and your laptop disk went bad and you had no backup.

Either the data store could always be off the latptop and in a central location that can be recovered easily, or it should have some type of a sync backup/restore to an off-laptop location where the data could be retrieved quickly and easily.

The other thing to think about is that all of this personal data in this personal archive needs to be secured. Only readable by the user who's archive it is and those whom that user permits to read it.

These are a couple of things that we should think about as we provide services to make 1:1 a good experience and service for the students in the future.

I completly believe in 1:1 and also agree that ASU needs to do all it can to provide it.