CIS Laptop Computer Policy (Preliminary)

Page created 2011-09-13, last updated 2001-09-13.

The BYUH Computer and Information Sciences department plans to adopt a policy requiring advanced students to have a personal laptop computer or equivalent.

We have been told that at many universities, this is already a requirement. That is not a compelling reason by itself, but it certainly seems to be the direction of things in the future.

Send comments to Don Colton,

Comments In Favor

Many responses simply said: Great Idea. Others gave reasons:

Convenience and Experience: I've used a personal laptop since my sophomore year and it has helped me significantly. Not only is it more convenient as I can work on assignments anywhere and anytime, but it has also improved my overall capability and understanding of the new tools and software that I learn about in class because oftentimes I need to install and configure them on my own computer before I can use them (whereas the school computers already have that done for you).

Experience: I think this is a great idea not because i have one but the fact I'm more familiar with the software on it and how to use it makes it easier for my learning process.

Normal: At many universities, this is already a requirement.

Comments Against

Expensive: There are sufficient computers on campus already available to students. The labs are open long enough to accommodate most students schedules. Those who want the privilege of being able to code anywhere any time can purchase a laptop if they wish. It's an unnecessary expense to force on the students, especially those with limited income.

Expensive: Not all students who are in one of the CIS Majors can afford to purchase their own laptops because of financial constraints.

Expensive: In this already struggling economy students are expending all they can just to pay for books and tuition.

Waiting: I'm very happy working on library computers, and with such cool changes coming to laptops in the future I'm not inclined to buy one right now.

Why Require Laptops?

CIS covers three specialties: Computer Science, Information Systems, and Information Technology. Students in each of these majors must become skilled at the use of computers, but this can be accomplished in on-campus labs. What then, is the compelling reason for having each student own a laptop?

Non-Shared Software: From time to time there is a requirement for a specialized software program that is not suitable for installation on lab computers. It may be due to the cost of site licensing, or it may be due to the fact that the software cannot be used effectively by more than one person. This would essentially tie the student down to a specific lab machine, or require extra time to copy a personalized virtual machine to and from a thumb drive.

Increased Involvement: When a student has ready access to his or her machine on a 24-7 basis, they naturally develop more skills with that machine and its software. Those skills are important in the job market.

Reasonable Prices: Formerly the high prices of laptops have prevented serious consideration of making a laptop requirement. However, prices have fallen to the point where large numbers of students are bringing them to class. Laptops have reached a price point where they are within reach to most students.

When Are They Needed?

If you are just taking the pre-admission courses, you do not need your own laptop yet.

If you are taking a course that is required by a non-CIS program, such as introductory programming or web development, you do not need your own laptop yet.

Once you are formally admitted into a CIS major, then you should begin looking for your laptop.

By the time you are taking your 300-level courses and above, you should have a laptop of your own. This should cover the last one to two years of your education.

What System Requirements?

It would be easy to identify a few models and encourage students to purchase them. But it seems better to have each student do the research and find the ideal machine for themself.

What specifications are required? Following is a list of required specifications. Over time, these requirements may be raised, so please consider them to be minimum requirements and get a better machine if you can. Over time, some of these requirements may become outdated. If you believe a requirement should be reconsidered, please contact the department with your comments.

  • Operation System: Must have one of these.
    • Microsoft Windows 7
    • Microsoft Windows XP Professional with SP3
    • Mac OS X Version 10.4.11 or higher.
    • Dual Boot to other operating systems is acceptable.
  • Hardware: Must have the following:
    • Internet Ready: either by Wi-Fi or by RJ45 cable connector.
    • Processor Speed: 500 MHz or higher processor.
    • Cores: Single is okay. Dual core (or better) is nice.
    • RAM Memory: 512 MB or more, 3 GB recommended.
    • Hard Drive: 80 GB space or more, 250 GB recommended.
    • Monitor: 32-bit true color monitor (1024x768 resolution) or more.
    • USB: should be able to use external hard drives, USB memory sticks, etc.
  • Software: Must have the following:
    • Browsers: Firefox or Chrome must be available. Internet Explorer and Safari are also nice.
    • Java: Java Runtime Environment (JRE)
    • Acrobat: Adobe Acrobat Reader

Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

I am not a Computer major. I am just taking a class. Does this apply to me? Probably not. This rule applies to classes for Computer Majors. It does not apply to the pre-major classes. It does not apply to the classes commonly taken by non-majors. But if in doubt, check with the instructor of the class.

This is too expensive for poor starving students. Yes, maybe in a few cases. But prices are really coming down. A workable machine can be had for the price of two textbooks ($250). A very nice machine can be had for the price of four textbooks ($550).

What are my current specs? I have no idea how much speed or memory or whatever my laptop has. How can I find out? Answer: come by GCB 103 with your laptop and we will help you find out.

Will my current laptop or desktop be okay? Maybe. If you already have a computer, go ahead and continue to use it. However, if we discover the need for some capability that you do not have, we may tell you that you need to upgrade.

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