MARQUETTE – The upcoming fall semester will mark the fifth anniversary of Northern Michigan University’s Teaching, Learning and Communication initiative. The TLC is a comprehensive, cross-curriculum program that puts a notebook computer in the hands of every full-time student as part of tuition.
Northern is one of the largest notebook computer universities in the world. On Wednesday through Friday (Aug. 24-26), NMU will hold its annual TLC distribution at the Superior Dome. Nearly 4,700 computers will be issued, bringing the campus total of laptops to 9,417, according to Associate Vice President of Finance and Planning Gavin Leach.
The program was fully implemented and the first distribution held in 2000 after two pilot years proved successful. Since then, Northern has been cited nationally as one of the nation’s most wired campuses and recognized internationally as a “Laureate” award recipient in Computer World’s Honors Program, a distinction selected by the CEOs of the world’s leading technology companies.
The reach of the TLC initiative extends beyond student notebook computers, according to Darlene Walch, dean of Academic Information Services and a charter member of the TLC Steering Committee. Walch points out that faculty, staff and administrators use the same technology as students, making NMU one of the most technologically integrated universities.
“TLC has fostered a team element that maybe would have developed anyway, but this program certainly pushed and enhanced that team environment,” Walch said. “It takes people from all over campus to make TLC work.”
Over the last five years, participants in the TLC experience have helped keep the “high-tech, high-touch” program responsive to new university needs and challenges. Wireless capability has been added across campus, university business operations have called upon the technology to reduce costs and enhance efficiency, the NMU Help Desk lab has been completely remodeled since 2000, and the distribution process has been streamlined.
Help Desk manager Chris Wagner said that the program is doing what it was designed to do: put students at the front of the technology wave.
“I think the Internet’s still changing, still evolving, and there’s still a lot of potential that’s untapped out there. To see students striving to tap that potential and finding exciting ways to do so is pretty impressive.”