I like my laptop and I'm glad I have it, but there are times when I'm not sure the cost was justified by how I use it.
In my opinion, the biggest issue regarding the laptop requirement is balancing/ justifying the cost with students' needs.
The fact is that laptops aren't integrated into the curriculum and that students drop $2,000 for nothing! (Student quotes from Li & Newby, 2002)
The university described in this case was highly ranked nationally and a leader among peer public institutions. With a large and diverse student body, it was not feasible to provide an information technology solution that met the needs of all constituencies. By increasing the centralization of information technology services on campus, and implementing mandatory laptop computer ownership for incoming students, a tighter control on costs was expected. Higher quality information technology services were also expected. While actual cost savings were difficult or impossible to measure (and may never materialize), there were clear indicators of increased efficiency through centralization.
The pedagogic benefits of ubiquitous laptop ownership were, from the point of view of the campus CIO and others behind the laptop plan, of secondary concern. Uses for laptop computers in several large undergraduate classes were created, but most classes only benefited to the extent that individual faculty or departments choose to develop laptop-friendly courses or course segments. In most departments, there was little or no pressure for faculty to integrate laptops in to their curricula. However, some departments, especially those with graduate professional programs, significantly redesigned their programs to make use of laptops (and provided faculty with support and inspiration to participate).
The number of families in the US that own computers has continued to grow, and as a result, the number of undergraduate students with computers has continued to grow. It is reasonable for these students to expect that computers, which are already part of their home lives and high school curricula, will be important tools for their college careers. The university described in this case took a proactive step towards ubiquity of networked computing in society by making them ubiquitous on campus. Despite challenges, oversights and obstacles in the particular implementation described here, it seemed likely these steps were in the right direction.