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Northern Michigan U Issues 6,000 Laptops to Students

Northern Michigan University has deployed 6,000 Lenovo ThinkPad R61 notebooks to its full-time students to provide access to 724 Web-based classes this fall. This is the 10th year that NMU has issued ThinkPads to its student body.

NMU maintains a Blackboard WebCT-based course management system that allows faculty to distribute syllabi, assignments, test scores, and class updates to students using their notebooks. More than 2,000 classes have been registered via the Web course management system to-date, including the ones being offered online.

"We continue to offer Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks to level the playing field for all incoming students and ensure everyone has the best PC tools available for a dynamic learning experience," said Gavin Leach, VP for finance and administration. "As the only public university in Michigan that provides each student with a PC, Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks have supported the students' evolving needs and enhanced our faculty's teaching techniques over the past decade."

The United States Olympic Education Center at the university also uses the computers to help train student athletes. The school's weightlifting coach photographs athletes while they practice and then reviews their form with them frame by frame on his ThinkPad notebook.

For Olympic wrestler and NMU junior Spenser Mango, his ThinkPad notebook has been an indispensable tool during his time at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, from live chatting with family, to storing photos to scoping out the competition. "While I was in Beijing, my Lenovo ThinkPad notebook was the only tool for me to communicate with my friends and family in the [United States], and I also used it to scout video footage of my opponents and to review my own matches," said Mango. "During the school year, I take my ThinkPad notebook to class and access my homework on the Web when I'm traveling for meets. My college experience would be completely different and not nearly as engaging without my Lenovo PC."

The notebooks are equipped with Lenovo's ThinkVantage Technologies, a suite of system management and maintenance tools. For example, Rescue and Recovery provides students a one-button recovery tool to retrieve lost or corrupted projects and assignments. The Active Protection System protects the PC hard drive in case the machine is dropped.

The school leases the laptop computers and issues them to students on a two-year cycle. Art and design majors receive MacBooks instead of ThinkPads, for which the students pay a $150 premium.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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