Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Where's 1:1?

Got a jar of dead scorpions the other day.

It was just sitting there, in my cube over in Computing Commons. Not sure how it got there. Wasn't sure what it was at first. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I know exactly what it is even now I've identified it as a jar of dead scorpions.

Perhaps its a traditional welcoming gift? A warning? A gauntlet? (you know..."Think you've killed scorpions?...Hah!...Behold my prowess!!) The sender/collector/gifter also included a list of the things one might do with a jar of dead scorpions:

  1. Sell raffle tickets for guessing the number of scorpions in the jar, and donate the money to the SIS replacement project.

  2. Dip them in chocolate and market them as the next disgusting consumption stunt on Fear Factor. [Yum.]

  3. Use them as ingredients, for the development of a scorpion cookbook.

  4. Use as an ice-breaker on your next motivational speaking tour.

  5. Use them as calling cards.

  6. State a novelty paperweight business.

  7. Use them as a case study to teach marketing students how to sell generally repulsive product concepts. Regent's Arachnids anyone?

  8. Put them in a bigger jar and ponder the questions, is it half full, or half empty?

Apart from this rather dramatic increase in dead scorpion activity, the killing of the live ones has settled into routine around my house. And since the exterminator's been in the game, the volume has gone way down too.

Which leaves more time for thinking about 1:1.

In a way, 1:1 is a simple idea, with a simple justification. Like 1,2,3...

  1. ASU currently uses its resources to deploy and maintain common computing infrastructure for student use.

  2. Meanwhile, every term, more and more students bring powerful, portable, personal computing devices to school that ASU does not support.

  3. By requiring all students to have a personal computing device, ASU could get out of the common computing business and instead provide better support for personal computing.

Implementation seems easy too. Again, like 1, 2, 3...

  1. Make it a requirement, like a textbook or a calculator.

  2. Eliminate the common infrastructure.

  3. Direct the resources to supporting the new paradigm.

And in a way it is just that easy. It's just that each of those three steps is a little tricky, with a little bit of risk involved. Let me explain, in the context of Downtown 1:1.

Blog readers will recognize "Downtown 1:1" as the idea of a pilot program for 1:1 computing at the Downtown campus. The idea is to develop the support programs and partnerships needed to make 1:1 an effective educational tool at ASU in the microcosm of the Downtown campus. Time is running short if we are to make this happen.

Step 1: Making 1:1 a requirement

This is not as radical an idea as you might think. Lots of schools have already taken this step. Look at this list.

And if computers were free, it would be an easy step to take. We'd just make it a requirement. But as cheap as computers are these days, they still aren't free.

So if its a requirement, who's going to pay? If I'm a student, especially one who doesn't already own a computer, then I'm hoping the University is going to pay. But the only way the University if going to pay is if they raise the money somewhere, which means that the University paying is equivalent to a tuition increase. And given how contentious tuition increases are, this is a problem. Plus, other universities' experience shows that, overall, University-owned equipement is treated with less care than student owned equipment.

So what if the student pays? Well, lots of students are already doing just that. According to the ECAR Study of Students and Information Technology, in 2004 some 63% of students already own desktops, 47% already owned laptops. (In a couple of weeks we'll be launching our own survey here at ASU to better understand, on a program by program basis, just what technology students are currently coming to campus with.)

But before the 1 in 2 of you that may be laptopless flies off the handle at the idea of another financial drain, consider the following. Several of the leading textbook publishers (e.g. Pearson, McGraw-Hill have launched digital textbook initiatives, offering popular e-Texts at discounts of 40-50%. A laptop requirement, combined with a digital textbook program, could end up looking like this financially:

Average Price of Paper Books per Term$350
Average Price of e-Books per Term (40% discount)$210
4-yr Lease cost of entry level laptop per term$120

Why a requirement? Why not make it optional?

  • A laptop requirement will allow us to work with technology suppliers to get the best possible price and support.

  • A requirement also allows us to configure the support resources to meet the emerging demand.

  • If a student simply can't afford it, if the University has a laptop requirement, then scholarships and financial aid can be allocated to help students defray the cost.

OK, so suppose downtown we will have some 3,000 students. And suppose, like the Carey School did when it introduced 1:1 into its MBA program, we provided financial aid to each and every student to defray their first year lease costs. That's about $750,000 for next year.

Add to that the cost of providing support to 3,000 students, as well as faculty and staff. If you assume a mix of 1:30 for faculty, 1:60 for staff, and 1:100 for students, then we're talking maybe 6 full time support people and 30 student FTE's, so you are looking at say $1,300,000 in support costs.

Add software and application services into the bargain, say $300,000, and you're looking at a program that costs $2.5M a year.

At the moment, Sam Digangi's group is working with representatives from University College, Nursing and Public Programs, to identify the specific technology needs of each of the programs.

Once we get a solid idea of the financial picture, we're looking for help from the technology providers to help us structure the sales, support and insurance programs.


Step 2: Eliminate the common infrastructure

For Downtown, this is the easy part. You just don't deploy common infrastructure in the first place. Instead you configure the common spaces to facilitate collaborative work, have plenty of wireless connectivity, and conveniently located power.

Instead of specialized mediation for a relative few classrooms, you deploy computer projectors and speakers in every classroom, and sufficient wireless and power for students to be able to light up in class. Seems like 1:1 is a cost saver here, but maybe in the end its a zero-sum game.

The 1:1 result is that every classroom is first class mediated though.


Step 3: Start supporting the new paradigm

Deploy application services. Design the support program by emulating other successful institutions. Deploy the people.

Easy to say. A little more challenging to get done, but we're making progress every day. What are we missing?


quagmire,  December 8, 2005 at 9:54 AM  

it seems that only two sources of funding have been considered for the 1:1 project: students and the university.

i believe other avenues are available. corporate sponsorship? ad revenue? etc.

Cameron Scholtz December 12, 2005 at 1:27 AM  

The sixth graders beat us to the punch :) This is a very good read from "Wired Magainze" about schools forging 1:1 relationships.,1284,69806,00.html

Lou K,  December 12, 2005 at 4:46 AM  

In the beginning of November, I attended a conference where Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute presented their Mobile Computing Program (you can view their PowerPoint presentation at Rensselaer’s laptop program started in 1999 and has gone through some changes over the years. One change I thought was interesting was that their lease option was changed to a lease-to-own option where the students can pay for the laptop over 2 years.

Along with the presentation is a paper Rensselaer wrote regarding their program. It goes into more detail on what has changed over the years as well as integrating the laptop into academics, using technology as a recruitment tool, and what is missing from their program. I currently have a hard copy of the paper (6 pages) and I’m in the process of tracking down a digital copy for those interested. If anyone is interested in the paper, please let me know.

lparsons,  December 12, 2005 at 7:17 AM  

1:1 is a great idea for /degree seeking students/. However, I'm not convinced it's a good idea for those students who are not necessarily seeknig a degree, but are taking one or two classes here and there. In general, finding a way to provide adaptive levels of service to our various "levels" of students would be benificial. The first step in that process would be to identify the various levels.

ASUmusicMAN December 12, 2005 at 8:13 PM  

This is somewhat off-topic, although briefly, I think that 1:1 is a great idea, and I definitely support it, but that cost calculation was quite interesting (And since it is finals season, I wonder how people would react to this during book buy-back time, which you certainly can't do with e-books). I find just the idea of e-books interesting, especially if they are fully searchable pdf's.

What I really am interested in is the integration of podcasts into ASU's technology vision. Now I was excited as the next geek when I saw the ASUDMIT podcast on the front page of my podcast iTunes, but then I thought about the next level. What if you could download podcasts of your lectures similiar to how you can download the power points from My ASU for a given class.When one sees stories like this you can only dream of the applications of this fantastic technology.

Guy December 13, 2005 at 9:35 AM  

Yes, podcasting definitely promises to be a valuable tool in delivering educational content in the New American University. We have been deeply exploring this space in recent months at DMIT, and we are pleased with the potential applications. Our goals go much further than merely repurposing existing content, a popular strategy that is often applied when attempting to utilize new technologies. Though even as a minimum objective this would be worthwhile. Rather, we hope to work to integrate podcasting as well a various other new and emerging media types such as blogging, and wiki, and even those yet to be discovered into new methods of teaching and learning in the coming years as ASU continues to evolve. Even sooner. [INSERT mysterious foreshadowing music here.]

Some early examples of our podcasting efforts may be found at the DMIT Podcasting Page. [Note: our podcast recorded on Friday, (12/09/05) contains some valuable insight regarding the perspectives of podcasting and such from the Office of the President.]

During our initial educational podcasting endeavors we have tried a variety of strategies include some of the content repurposing mentioned above (it is the simplest way to get started, but again the medium offers much more potential), some dedicated lectures and course materials, conference proceedings and special event programming, and even some enhanced podcasting that includes linked graphics and presentation materials. Yet, again this is just the beginning. You are correct…the possibilities abound. Stay tuned...

shauntu,  March 29, 2006 at 10:38 PM  

Here's 1:1... 5th graders...