Computer labs have long been essential to college and university life. Despite the pervasiveness of personal computing devices on campus, computer labs are still surprisingly popular with students, says Kenneth C. Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project. Several factors ensure that computer labs will remain campus mainstays for the foreseeable future:
- The Digital Divide: The price of most mobile devices is fairly low, but not all students have the financial resources to buy the latest-and-greatest gadgets. Some students still come to campus with older computers that don’t have the processing power or graphics cards necessary to run newer applications. Others can afford only low-end computers or invest instead in smartphones or tablets. These students will need access to computer labs for certain core functions (such as printing), so campuses will need to provide them.
- High-end computing: Students in technical fields of study, such as mathematics, engineering, architecture and finance, may not be able to afford the specialized applications that their classes require them to use. In most cases, academic departments provide access to these programs in computer labs.
- Convenience: The fact remains that many students like to hang out in computer labs, sometimes for social or collaborative purposes and sometimes because they simply want to work on computers that have more, better or different features than their own.
For more on the pervasiveness of personal computing devices on campus, read the CDW•G white paper on BYOD.