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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Journalism department will require laptop purchase

Freshmen journalism majors will be required to purchase Mac laptops as part of the department’s laptop initiative, starting in Fall 2009.

“What I envision in three or four years, we won’t be meeting in the computer labs and students will bring their own computer into the classroom,” said James Tidwell, chair of the journalism department.

The journalism department is the first department from the College of Arts and Humanities to require Mac laptops; however, the department of communication disorders and sciences was the first to implement the initiative, using computers from Hewlett-Packard.

“Faculty have lead this initiative,” said Michael Hoadley, assistant vice president for academic affairs for technology. “They want technology in the classroom.”

Tidwell said journalism classrooms would have a different look in the future. Several classes would have tables instead of desks to create more space, he said.

Computers will still be available in most classrooms for non-majors taking journalism courses, he added.

“In the journalism department, we rely heavier on technology more than other disciplines might because of writing, design and photography,” Tidwell said.

Journalism professor Brian Poulter said journalism is changing quickly, and a student is going to have to report, use a camera and a recorder.

“With this initiative, we want to use the professional approach and make this second nature to them,” Poulter said.

Because more students will use wireless Internet, the wireless connectivity on campus will be enhanced, especially in Buzzard Hall.

“If we have more students using wireless, we will need more connectivity,” Tidwell said.

In spring 2006, the Academic Technology and Instructional Support established a subcommittee to consider the idea of a laptop initiative for Eastern. The committee eventually proposed starting the initiative on campus.

Hoadley said 93 to 94 percent of on-campus students arrive on campus with computers, and there is an overwhelming increase in laptop purchases.

Blair Lord, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the initiative works department by department.

“As departments feel they are ready and would like to participate, they are invited to do so,” Lord said. “We do not contemplate making this a university mandate at any time in the foreseeable future.”

When the initiative starts, journalism majors will need a 15-inch MacBook Pro. The department also requires the AppleCare Protection Plan and Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium.

Students purchasing the laptop and software through the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Bookstore will receive special discounts – approximately $75 cheaper than the educational discount special at retail stores or the company’s Web site.

“An advantage to the cost of the computer would be in the financial aid packet,” Tidwell said.

The discussion of a decrease in journalism majors because of this initiative came up in meetings, Tidwell added.

“I hope it won’t decrease journalism majors,” Tidwell said. “Same thing happens when you increase standards.”

Poulter said journalism majors need to know how to go into the field with a professional approach and know how to report and be able to send stories via the Internet to editors.

“Technology is not a replacement for ethic, teaching and all functions,” Poulter said. “We just want to get the best tools in our hands.”

Tidwell made it clear the plan will not be fully implemented until 2012, when all journalism majors will have a Mac laptop.

Tidwell added he could see other departments adopting this initiative.

Brittni Garcia can be reached at 581-7942 or at [email protected].

Journalism department will require laptop purchase

Journalism department will require laptop purchase

Starting in Fall 2009, all freshmen journalism majors will be required to buy the Macbook laptop for classes.(Robbie Wroblewski

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