Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Last minute tech gadgets to bring to campus

It's almost time to start the fall term. There are many lists on the web that tell what you what tech tools you "must" have to in college. Well, I would like to offer my version and these are pretty basic things that will make life easier and more secure.

Laptop bag - most students will have this, but I suggest either a messenger style bag or a backpack that has been designed to hold a laptop. Thes can be bought to fit any laptop size. They distribute the weight better than a briefcase style bag. They will also allow you to pack in a few books, notebook, or even extra clothes for the weekend. You should be able to get something nice for about $50.

Laptop lock - most students leave their laptops in their rooms and do not lug them around campus. Therefore its a good idea to lock it down when its on your dorm desk. Residence halls are social places with many friends or others just stopping by. A laptop is attractive and easy to pick up.

Portable storage - whether you are using a large external hard drive or a large "flash drive", you should have extra external storage to back up your files. Please back up assignments, papers, photos, and other personal digital stuff. You can buy an 8-16GB flash drive for less than $50. If you need tons of storage, you can buy an external hard drive and store millions of documents and photos. An external hard drive will cost about $100.

USB hub - this is not required, but can be useful. Most laptops will have 3-4 USB ports. The hub lets you add to this number and may make it easier to connect cameras, printers, music players and other devices.

Headphones Most students have ear buds from their music player and this may be fine, even when you need to connect to your laptop. You might want to upgrade to noise cancelling headphones if outside noise really bugs you. Residence halls can get noisy. BTW, students also use their heaphones to connect to computers in the library, computer labs, computer kiosks around campus.

Music services - this is free!! I use Pandora (, but there are others. These allow you to listen to all of the music you like, legally. Streaming services can be used comfortably on the wired and wireless networks.

That's about it. If you are wondering whether campuses are moving toward e-books, they are not. We are just seeing this and it is not on a grand scale. I would hold off on buying the e-book reader. We do use MyClasses, our web based campus learning management system. This is free to students and usually contains lots of materials for a given class. Ask you instructors more about this.

Have a great start to the semester.