Texas A&M University launched a website last May that university leaders said will help students prepare students gather the appropriate materials as they head back to class this fall. The “Aggie TechList” gathers together information normally scattered across university departments.
On the website, students fill out questions about their major and housing, as well as the devices they plan to bring to campus. The new website comes after last fall the university instituted minimum computing requirements for all students to accommodate increased demand for online learning during the coronavirus pandemic. On top of that, some majors require devices with higher specifications because of software used in classes. For example, the College of Engineering requires an Intel i7 or i9 processor, whereas generally students are only required to have an i5 processor or equivalent.
“There are some some majors that don’t have specific computing requirements, but then their friends would be in another college that did have computing requirements,” said Lacey Baze, Texas A&M’s director of product strategy and communication. “There was some confusion there, and so this alleviated that confusion.”
Texas A&M enrolls more than 70,000 students. Baze said each spring, students and parents frequently call the university to ask about what technology to bring to campus through the central Help Desk. The website was designed to answer those questions, she said. The website uses information from distributed IT departments, as well as the communications provided to incoming students.
After students complete the survey, the website provides a results page that links out to relevant university sites, like how to register a device or a specific department’s technology page. The housing questions are included because some residence halls are connected to a special wireless network as part of a pilot program, outside of the general residence hall Wi-Fi. Students are allowed to connect three devices, including wireless printers and smart TVs, to the network. And if a student is living off campus, the site provides information on how to print on campus.
“Traditionally, this was handled in a very decentralized manner with each unit handling it however they wanted to, not in a streamlined or similar fashion, so this is definitely is a good resource for incoming students, they can go to one place, and get all of the information that they need about what technology to bring to campus,” Baze said.