This paper was presented at CUMREC '99, The College and University Information Services Conference. It is the intellectual property of the author(s). Permission to print out copies of this paper is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for commercial advantage and that the title and authors of the paper appear on the copies. To copy or disseminate otherwise, or to republish in any form, print or electronic, requires written permission from the authors.

Planning and Implementing Computer Orientation for a Laptop Campus:

The Wake Forest University ThinkPad Project


A Paper submitted to the CUMREC Conference

March, 1999


Susan S. Smith

Electronic Resources Librarian, Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University

Rosalind L. Tedford

Information Technology Specialist, Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University

H. David Womack

Training Manager, International Center for Computer Enhanced Learning, Wake Forest University


Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University is a private liberal arts institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There are 3,700 full-time undergraduate students and 308 full-time faculty. The programs in the Graduate School of Arts and Science, Babcock Graduate School of Management, School of Law and Bowman Gray School of Medicine bring an additional 2,000 students to the Reynolda and Bowman Gray campuses. Wake Forest has strong undergraduate programs in Business, Psychology, Pre-Med., English and many other liberal arts disciplines. Faculty student interaction is at the heart of the academic life of the university and the faculty student ratio is 11.8:1. The university is characterized by its devotion to liberal learning and professional preparation for men and women, its strong sense of community and fellowship, and its encouragement of free inquiry and expression. The Information Systems department of the University supports the entire Undergraduate school and Graduate School of Arts and Science. The graduate professional programs in Business, Law and Medicine have their own computer support staffs who work closely with Information Systems.



As more universities make the decision to provide all students with computers, the issues surrounding introducing students to ubiquitous computing in a campus setting takes on more significance. Wake Forest University has been providing incoming students with IBM laptops since 1995 and, in the four years since, the university has had to plan and implement distribution, support, training and computer orientation for each incoming freshman class. How they did it and the lessons learned along the way are the central issues of this presentation. The primary focus will be the computer orientation offered annually to all incoming students to introduce and familiarize them with their computers and with computing on campus. Additional issues to be addressed include project history, year-by-year evolution of the project, staffing and support issues, and an orientation model for the future. Questions from schools contemplating or implementing similar projects will be welcome.


In 1995, Wake Forest University entered into a ten year contract with International Business Machines (IBM) that would ultimately provide IBM ThinkPad laptop computers to all freshmen beginning with the class entering in the Fall of 1996. Although the ThinkPad project has been groundbreaking in many ways, the focus of this paper will be the portion of the project that dealt with the orientation students got to their laptop computers upon arriving on campus. The orientation program has changed much since its inception and many lessons have been learned. This paper will look briefly at Wake Forest and the ThinkPad project history and implementation and will then present the orientation models for the four years the program has been in place. Finally, we will attempt to design an ideal orientation model taking into account our various successes and failures in the program. This will be an attempt to provide other universities embarking on a similar project guidelines for implementing an orientation program on their campus.

Pre-Project History of WFU Computing

Wake Forest: Wake Forest University is a private liberal arts institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There are 3,700 full-time undergraduate students at Wake Forest and 308 full-time faculty. The faculty student ratio is 11.8:1. The programs in the Graduate School of Arts and Science, Babcock Graduate School of Management, School of Law and Bowman Gray School of Medicine bring an additional 2,000 students to the Reynolda and Bowman Gray campuses. Wake Forest is characterized by its devotion to liberal learning and professional preparation for men and women, its strong sense of community and fellowship, and its encouragement of free inquiry and expression. As a result of the ThinkPad project, tuition went from $17,000 per year to just shy of $20,500.

Computing Before IBM: In 1986, Wake Forest began acquiring Macintosh computers for use in several student computer labs. These labs had lab printers and the computers were connected to each other, but there was no campus network for allowing computers in remote locations to communicate. Beginning in 1990, an ad hoc faculty committee of dedicated computer enthusiasts began seriously contemplating the future of computing on the campus. The committee proposed that the University awake to the trends sweeping most other universities at the time � open systems, Internet, E-mail, Usenet, On Line Catalogs, etc. The committee selected two Hewlett Packard UNIX minicomputers to serve the academic community. One was used to support faculty and student uses; the other ran the Library�s on line catalog. The committee also recommended a focus on networking and proposed that the University begin to establish a campus-wide network offering access to the new central computers. As the university began to move toward more campus-wide networking, it became evident that a plan for the future of campus computing was needed.

Plan for the Class of 2000

In 1992, the University began a two-year planning cycle that resulted, in 1994, in the presentation of the Plan for the Class of 2000. This plan proposed a number of objectives to improve the educational outcomes for students and to strengthen the University's position in an increasingly competitive world. One of the 37 recommendations sent by the administration to the faculty for approval was that teaching and learning proceed from the assumption that computer technology be available to all students and all faculty at an equal level. That recommendation became the genesis of a comprehensive plan to equip the entire University with a capable and standard computing environment.

Implementation of the Plan: The discussion that led to this conclusion was one that consumed the faculty committee on Academic Computing for the better part of a year. The major focus of the discussions in the committee concerned implementing such a requirement. At the time it seemed impossible that the requirements could be met. The Academic Computer Center was under funded, understaffed and over stretched. The Residence Halls were not networked and only about half of the students even had computers. There was not enough space on campus for a large increase in the number of labs. Even though the requirement for computer use in teaching was growing at a significant rate, there did not seem to be any way to meet the existing demand. Instead of focusing on why a ubiquitous computing initiative could not succeed, the committee listed requirements necessary for such a project to succeed. This "wish list" became the basis of a report back to the Executive Council on how such a plan could succeed. The "wish list" was a set of requirements which addressed the fundamental problems within the University Computing Infrastructure at the time:

The basic objections that were answered were:



How could we use it in teaching if all the students do not have computers?

1.Require all students to purchase a computer, or

2.Include a standard computer in Tuition.

How could we use the technology if freshmen have a new computer and seniors have a 4-year-old computer?

Require a two-year product replacement.

How can we get the academic support we need from a computer center that reports to the CFO?

Hire academic support specialists to work directly with the faculty.

How could the Computer Center possibly support that many machines?

Consolidate functions and expand help desk and network staffing.

How could the Computer Center train all those people?

Make training a mission of the Library.

How can we require use if the campus is not networked?

Set aside $5,000,000 for networking and multimedia.

What do we standardize on? Mac or PC?

Work the best long-term agreement with either Apple or IBM.

These requirements were passed to the Executive Council and became the basis of a plan that was taken to a vote of the faculty with two other issues in March of 1995 and then to the Board of Trustees in April of 1995. After passing those two votes and passing a vote of the Student Government, the plan was formalized. The result was a plan to increase tuition $3,000 per year, add 40 new faculty, to require a freshman seminar, and to equip students with a new computer every two years. The plan was to begin in the fall of 1996.

IBM Project History

In May of 1995, the University completed a ten-year agreement with IBM to provide IBM ThinkPads, support, project management and expertise to the campus. Although bids had been solicited from both IBM and Macintosh, IBM was the only company to develop a plan for the campus. This put the university in the position of having to scale back the Macintosh network gradually, as many students and faculty had all of their work in Macintosh format, while simultaneously building up and implementing a new PC network.


Planning for Computer Orientation

Once the Plan for the Class of 2000 had been adopted, training became an issue. The Library director had accepted the library's role as primary training providers. She appointed a Training Task Force that met weekly in preparation for the coming training. This committee consisted of the Head of the Library's Information Technology Center, the ITC technician, members of the IS support center and other IS staff. This committee has been the center of the orientation planning since the beginning and although the membership has grown as new training issues have arisen, it remains the primary guiding force behind the orientation project. A matrix comparison of the four years of the program can be found in Appendix A.

1995-96: Pilot Project Year

With the approval of the plan of the class of 2000 in April 1995, the University began to focus on implementing the project for the fall of 1995. To get the project underway all faculty were offered either a new ThinkPad or a new IBM desktop computer. Approximately 85% of the faculty elected to accept the offer, with about a 50-50 split between mobile and desktop computers.

Because of the timing of the plan�s acceptance, it was not possible to include computers in the tuition for the class of 1999. Instead, the University offered a pilot project for 100 students and allowed others that wished to purchase the standard computer to do so. Over 250 students elected to enter the pilot project, which began in August of 1995.

This late date meant that orientation planning had to be put in place for both Faculty and students in less than four months. This was complicated by the fact that the library staff who had been tapped to be trainers for the pilot project did not have computers. Many were working on Macintosh computers, library dumb terminals or DOS machines. The ten Academic Computing Specialists (ACS) that the university hired for computer support in the academic departments were also tapped for training roles but most did not come on board until August 1st. This provided two weeks for trainer training and one for faculty orientation before students would be arriving on campus.


Trainer Training: The trainer training for the pilot year was planned by the Training Taskforce and focused on the Library's Information Technology Center (ITC). The Library was given 20 ThinkPad 360s to use in the training and the ITC Head and Technician (both of whom, by the way were Mac users until the spring of 1995) planned the specifics of the trainer training. There were two sessions of five days each. The training covered insurance/liability issues, care of the ThinkPad, using the Trackpoint pointing device, Introduction to Windows 3.11, telnet, Email (Eudora), Netscape 1.0, FirstSearch, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, setting up a WWW homepage, network printing, printer maintenance, various library databases and some multimedia training. Once the trainers were trained, they were divided into ten teams with two trainers on each team. Trainers were given a large notebook of training materials for use in the classes and give scripts to use in the orientation sessions with students.

Faculty Training: The week before the students returned, Faculty were issued their laptops and were given hour-long training sessions led by the head of the Information Technology Center and the ITC technician. After the initial introduction, a survey was sent out to faculty asking what computer training classes they would be interested in having offered. There were training classes offered to all faculty who got new computers throughout the fall semester. Classes covered everything from Windows to library databases. ACSs and Library trainers taught classes. Of the twenty-seven classes offered, however, only ten actually had attendees. These were primarily classes in Windows, Word and the Internet.

Student Training: Because there were two types of pilot students, the 100 participating in the pilot project and 150 who bought ThinkPads on their own, two different types of classes were offered. All trainers were provided with training scripts for the sessions written by the ITC technician. All students were provided with a spiral bound Technology Guide that covered care of the ThinkPad, computing at Wake Forest, how to log into the campus network, troubleshooting and other help options. The Computer Lab Manager wrote the guide on campus. As a general rule, classes were well attended and close to 100% of the students who got computers attended training. In both sessions, however, there was an online registration form that required the students to log into the campus network and register their computer. This was an attempt by IS to create an online database of student logins and ThinkPad serial numbers.

Pilot Students: The 100 Pilot students were given a day and a half of computer training. They were issued their computers in the lobby of one of the classroom buildings and were sent immediately to a classroom (students were assigned to rooms based on name). Once the classes were filled, they were given in-depth training on care of the ThinkPad, remedial WIN 3.11, beginning Netscape 1.1/WWW, beginning Eudora, library applications, introductory Microsoft Office, and the campus network.

Other ThinkPad Students: The other 150 students that purchased ThinkPads were given a four-hour training session that was a pared-down version of the longer classes but did not cover library applications.

Continuing Training: 47 training classes were scheduled throughout the fall semester in Windows, Office, Internet, databases and other things. Students were sent a schedule of classes and a form to fill out if interested. Of the 47 classes offered, only seven had any attendees.


  1. All computers were distributed. Although this sounds like a mean task, it was not. Getting the computers to the students in an organized and controlled manner is crucial to a computer program like ours.
  2. Students were given crucial information. Although there were major problems with the network (see lessons learned) students did all learn how to care for the computer as well as the dos and don'ts of campus computer use.

Lessons Learned

  1. A robust network is a must. The network as it stood in August 1995 was not strong enough to handle multiple simultaneous logins. The network crashed and online registration had to be cancelled in many classes. Additionally, because of the Network problems, a good portion of the rest of the classes could not be hands on, but had to be demonstrated by the trainers.
  2. Online registration is not a good idea: Because of its reliance on the network, having the students register online was a decided failure. It frustrated the students, terrified the trainers and got the training project off to a rocky start.
  3. More time was needed for trainer training and script preparation: The short turnaround time (May to August) to get trainers up to speed and to get viable documentation and scripts written put extraordinary strain on the IS support staff and the trainers.
  4. Campus electronic infrastructure not fully developed: The limited number of classrooms, the weak network, the short turnaround time and the personnel shortages in IS all meant that the campus was essentially not prepared for the orientation program.
  5. Need a place for students to go who have problems: No troubleshooting location had been designated in advance so students who had hardware problems, and there were several, were at the mercy of wandering technicians and often missed important parts of the classes.



1996: Class of 2000

The year between the pilot project and the first year where the entire entering class got computers saw vast changes on the Wake Forest University campus. More dorms were wired for network connectivity, more classrooms were wired and the network was strengthened significantly. Nevertheless, planning orientation for 900 students would be significantly different than planning for 200. One thing that the University decided to do was to send computers through the mail over the summer to students whose tuition was paid in full by the middle of July. This meant that about 50% of the students already had computers when they arrived on campus.


Planning: The Training Taskforce met regularly over the year and decided that since 50% of the students would have had their computers for a month that only the students picking up their computers on campus would need orientation training. Thus, the orientation training was planned for 450 students instead of 900.

Timing: Distribution took place on Monday and training took place on Tuesday all day.

Location: Training took place in ten electronic classrooms spread over four buildings. Students were assigned to rooms alphabetically and the training location was to be communicated to them by their faculty advisors. Training took place in three-hour sessions spread out over ten classrooms and over an entire day. A troubleshooting room was established for the entire day where all problems were to be sent.

Trainers: There were ten teams of trainers each with three trainers. For the first time, students became involved in training. Resident Technology Advisors (RTA), who were assigned to each dorm, joined teams and helped in the classes. Trainer training took place every Friday in July and August. Each meeting, a team of trainers went through the script and changes were made.

Documentation: The training script was developed by the ITC staff and then presented to the trainers in the training sessions over the summer. All students received paper technology guides prepared by the IS computer lab manager and an independent contractor. Additionally, a start-up CD was placed in each student's CD-ROM drive and the student was supposed to have run through the CD before coming to training classes. The CD informed them about their Network Login and ID.

Content: The three-hour class used no network connection for the students, although trainers did connect and demonstrate the online portions of the script (Email, Internet, etc.). Sections included: Introduction to Windows95, Introduction to the software load, Library services, and Campus network services.

Evaluation Process: There was a paper evaluation and a take-home paper test with answer set included. Results of the evaluation were hand tallied.

Continuing Training: Students were issued a list of classes taught and the classes were scheduled for particular dates and times. Students were required to call and sign up for classes and to make a five-dollar deposit that was returned to them if they attended the class. Thirty-eight classes were scheduled but only five ever met.


  1. Early Ship: Having some computers shipped out early meant that the distribution process went extremely smooth. Students were able to get familiar with the machine before arriving on campus.
  2. Touched Base with More Students: A larger number of students came through the training classes and therefore information about care and policies was more widespread.
  3. Smooth Sailing: Because there was no network connections for the students, training was primarily glitch free in technological terms. This meant that classes did not run long and it was easy to adhere to a schedule.

Lessons Learned

  1. All students need orientation training: Although we did not know it while training was going on, it soon became apparent to the support center that training served to answer many computer questions and to ward off many computer problems. The students who had not received training were far less prepared to use the computer on campus than those who did attend training, even though they had received their computers during the summer. There were also many complaints by the parents of the students receiving early shipment of the computer that their child did not receive computer training when they got to campus.
  2. Students lose interest if they cannot participate directly in activities: A network connection is essential to truly demonstrate network resources. Although we were gun-shy because of the debacle of the previous year, the WFU Network could probably have handled the additional traffic and we would have been better off letting the students connect and participate directly in the email and Internet sessions.
  3. Differing skills levels can hinder training: Because students had differing skills levels, many felt the training went too slow and about an equal number felt it went too fast. It became evident that having novice users in the same room with expert users did a disservice to both.
  4. More attention needs to be focused on ethics: Because of problems that occurred throughout the year, clearly a section of the ethical issues surrounding the computer needed to be included in the script.
  5. Not all trainers had newer model machines: Trainers received the new model of ThinkPad only days before training and it was difficult to get well acquainted with the machine before having to use it in a training class.
  6. Paper evaluations are far too time consuming: Collating and tallying the training evaluations was not worth the effort.
  7. Students do not come to training classes: It was not blatantly obvious when looking at the continuing classes during the semester that scheduling particular classes on particular days was a waste of time and energy because students do not come. Students tend not to think ahead and want classes at 10pm the night before the paper is due, not on a Tuesday afternoon weeks before they have a need.
  8. Training scripts by committee do not work: The training script for this year went through ten revisions before it was set. This was in part due to the fact that we gave all trainers input into writing the script and this created a 'too many cooks' scenario. The script needs to be set as early as possible to ensure consistency and comfort in the script.
  9. Faculty advisors were not given training information soon enough: Many faculty advisors received the information about training locations after they had met with their students for the last time, others just failed to mention it to the students. Consequently there was much confusion about when students were supposed to come to training.


1997: Class of 2001

The 1996-97 school year was full of more changes. All dorms were wired for network access, the network was completed, and the decision was made to give all students Lexmark printers as well as computers (the Class of 2000 was also included in this decision). The decision to give all students printers was based on difficulties maintaining network printers in the residence halls. Information systems moved the support center to larger quarters and hired new phone and technical support persons. Additionally, Lotus Notes was chosen as the standard email package. Notes must be configured on each machine and this created a serious training issue. Students who received the computers over the summer would have to come to a fifteen-minute configuration session on Monday before they could participate in the regular training. The UPS strike over that summer meant that many students did not receive their computers until literally moments before leaving for campus, and a few had to have the machines sent after them by their parents. Students who picked up their computers on campus had their machines configured for them.


Planning: The Training Taskforce met regularly over the year and decided that all students should get training regardless of when they get the computer and that students should be divided up according to skill level.

Timing: Distribution took place on Monday, and Lotus Notes configuration for those students who needed it took place Monday afternoon in 30-minute sessions. Tuesday and Saturday were then set aside for the longer training classes.

Location: Training took place in 15 electronic classrooms spread over 2 buildings. Students were assigned to rooms based upon how they ranked themselves in a self-administered skill test issued over the summer. A troubleshooting room was established for the entire day where all problems were to be sent.

Trainers: There were 15 teams of trainers each with 3 trainers and a Resident Technology Advisor. Trainer training took place every Friday August.

Documentation: Training script was developed by the library staff and then presented to the trainers in the training sessions over the summer. All students got paper technology guides prepared by a member of the IS staff. Additionally, a Start up CD was issued with each computer.

Content: There were three classes. The two-hour class for advanced users covered care, policies, email, research and classroom tools and the campus network. The three-hour intermediate class included a section on Windows 95 and the four-hour class included a section on MS Word.

Evaluation Process: There was an online test and survey that students completed online before leaving.

Continuing Training: A catalog of classes available was passed out to students during training, but classes were held on an on-demand basis only. When 5 or more students requested a class, a time was set up and a library trainer taught the class. Only about 10 such classes were taught over the course of the year, but this method saved vast amounts of time and money.


  1. Training all students: 85% of students attended training classes. This greatly reduced the strain on the support center over the first few weeks of school because the students had learned or been told so much about the basics of computing at the university.
  2. Online test and survey worked beautifully: Having the data in digital format made all the difference in the world. We were able to extract the data and do comparisons among groups, get feedback for individual trainers and see where our focus should lie for the next year.
  3. Configuration day huge success: Configuring the machines on a separate day from the training weeded out many problems and left the training sessions on Tuesday and Saturday relatively trouble-free. Having pinpointed this issue so early and planned for it allowed the regular training classes to remain essentially trouble-free.
  4. Network worked beautifully: After two years of trepidation, having students all logged into the network posed no problems whatsoever. Thanks for that goes to the IS Networking department and their efforts to finish the network by training day in August.
  5. On-demand continuing training: Teaching classes using our on-demand system ensured that students got classes they want at times they want without putting strain on trainers to be prepared to teach a class that no one will attend.

Lessons Learned

  1. Skill level division sounds better than it is: Although in theory dividing up students by skill level is the ideal, in reality, students in the longer classes resented the time they had to spend in training, especially on Saturday. Despite the fact that the students themselves requested a particular class, they still became restless and bored in the longer sessions.
  2. Saturday orientation proved to be bad idea: While the Tuesday sessions had close to 90% attendance, the Saturday sessions were closer to 60%. Either the students had learned what they needed to know or they just did not want to come. This did create some problems for the support center staff who were left to deal with the students on a one-to-one basis.
  3. Consistency among training teams is essential: We discovered that as the trainers got more comfortable with technology and with training in general, they tended to take more liberties with the training scripts, some glossing over important areas, others inject information not in the script.
  4. Nonstandard software should not be distributed though other university offices: In a welcome-to-campus box distributed by Residence Life and Housing, students received free America Online CD-ROMs. Installing AOL on the ThinkPads erases LAN settings and students must have their machines reloaded. Students who had loaded the software were unable to log on to the university network in training and had to be sent to the troubleshooting room to have the load put back on their machines.


1998: Class of 2002


Planning: The Training Taskforce met regularly over the year and revised the idea of skill-level training, but kept the idea that all students need to attend computer orientation session.

Timing: Distribution took place on Monday morning and orientation training took place during two-hour sessions on Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday.

Location: Training took place in 13 electronic classrooms spread over 2 buildings. Students were assigned to buildings based upon the dorm in which they lived and assigned to rooms in an arena-style first-come first-served basis by cruise directors situated at the entrance to each building. A troubleshooting room was established for the entire day where all problems were to be sent.

Trainers: There were 13 teams of trainers each with 3 or 4 trainers and a Resident Technology Advisor. Trainer training took place every Friday in August.

Documentation: Training script was developed by the library staff and then presented to the trainers in the training sessions over the summer. All students got paper technology guides prepared by a committee. Additionally, a Start up CD was issued with each computer.

Content: The two-hour sessions covered care, ethics and computer use policies, research and classroom tools, email and campus network issues.

Evaluation Process: There was an online test and survey that students completed before leaving.

Continuing Training: A list of available classes was included in the technology guide but classes were held on an on-demand basis only.


  1. Arena-style classes worked well: We found that not having to maintain class rosters in each class was a more efficient scheduling model. Having cruise directors in each building dedicated to filling up classrooms freed up trainers from logistical tasks. Attendance records were obtained through the online test and survey.
  2. Technological problems averted: The modem distributed on the machines had a small technical glitch that was not discovered until after the machines were shipped. Because we knew we would see most students in a training class, we were able to discuss the problem with the classes and to demonstrate the solution. Last-minute information supplier has proven to be one of the most crucial roles orientation training has served. As the only forum assured of seeing the majority of students, we can serve as the relater of critical information to the students.

Lessons Learned

  1. Some concession needs to be made for skill levels: Although our experiment the previous year had been less than successful, we were still plagued by students getting left behind while others were too far ahead and bored. We found that the time we spent on email was over the head of some and elementary to others.
  2. 85% Attendance is the norm: As in the previous year, we discovered that the average attendance is about 85%. Although we would have liked it to be higher, we now have a number with which to work in planning future orientation sessions. Some incentive/penalty for attendance would be one method for increasing attendance.
  3. Consistency among classes essential: As the trainers have become more and more comfortable with the technology they are teaching, we have discovered that there is a wide range of content being taught. Less concerned with following a strict script, some trainers took more liberty with the content then we would have liked. Some effort at quality control must be instituted for next year.


Ideal Orientation Model

As a result of the lessons we have learned and the successes we have encountered, we submit the following suggestions for an ideal orientation model for institutions implementing campus-wide computing projects.

  1. All students must go through orientation and some penalty/incentive for attendance should be established: Although WFU does not currently have an incentive/penalty system, we recognize that this is required to bring attendance as close to 100% as possible.
  2. Training classes should be limited to two hours: After experimenting with varying class lengths, it has become obvious that the attention span of the average incoming freshman rarely exceeds two hours. Additionally, two-hour training classes allow for training to be completed within two days.
  3. Orientation should follow distribution as soon as possible: The longer students have the machines on campus, the less they feel they need to come to training as they begin to rely on peers for support. Consequently, the timeframe for orientation classes should be closely tied in to the computer distribution schedule and should occur as close to arrival on campus as possible.
  4. Some concession needs to be made for skill levels: Although we have not hit on the appropriate mix yet, it is painfully obvious that students benefit from being assigned to a class designed around their skill level.
  5. Close relationships between the freshman orientation committee and those planning computer orientation must be maintained: The overall freshman orientation process takes a year to be put in place and it is essential that computer orientation is integrated with the overall orientation model.

  7. Close relationships between computer support and training committee must be maintained: Computers on a college campus affect multiple parties and these parties must stay in constant contact while the planning is in process. Our solution was to form a training task force made up of members of all the critical departments to ensure that all issues were addressed in the planning and implementation of the training program. Additionally, the library maintains two staff members who participate annually in the preparation of the standard software load. This ensures accurate information about the upcoming computer and software is available when orientation training is being planned.
  8. Focus should be on computing on campus rather than on specific applications: Students come to Wake Forest with certain computing skills, but are unaware of the computing protocol in a campus setting. Applications such as word processing cannot feasibly be taught in a two-hour training session.
  9. Trainers should be well trained but some recourse needs to be in place to ensure consistency of information provided: While all trainers receive trainer training, we have discovered a large variety of instructional approaches. This can lead to inconsistent information being delivered to the students. It is essential that there be some quality control mechanism implemented for the training classes.

Appendix A

WFU Freshman Orientation Training History


1995 Pilot Year

1996 Class of 2000



Hardware Info

  • IBM ThinkPad 360CE
  • 486 Processor
  • 50 MHz
  • 12 mg RAM
  • Active Matrix screen
  • 340mg Hard Drive
  • PCMCIA Combo Card (14.4 Modem)
  • Block Adapter
  • Internal Floppy
  • Battery
  • IBM Thinkpad 365
  • 100 MHz/Pentium Processors
  • 810 Hard Drive
  • 16mg RAM
  • External Floppy
  • Internal 4x CD-ROM
  • 10.4" Dual Scan Monitor
  • Separate Ethernet and 14.4 Modem cards.
  • 16 bit Sound card
  • Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery
  • IBM ThinkPad 380
  • 166 MHz Pentium
  • 32 MG RAM
  • 1.3 Gig Hard Drive
  • 8x CD ROM drive Internal
  • Internal Floppy
  • Ethernet card
  • 28.8 Modem card.
  • 16 bit Sound Card
  • 12" Dual Scan Monitor
  • All got Lexmark 2030 including previous years.
  • Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery
  • IBM ThinkPad 380XD
  • 233 Pentium II Processor
  • 4 gig hard drive
  • 64 MG of memory
  • CD ROM Internal
  • Internal Floppy
  • 56kbps Modem with pop-out x-jack.
  • Ethernet card.
  • Sound Card
  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • Lexmark 5700 printer.

Who Was Trained?

  • 32 Trainers
  • 100 Pilot Students
  • 150 non-pilot ThinkPad students
  • 50 Faculty
  • Assigned to rooms alphabetically.
  • Training not mandatory
  • Early ship not required to come to training.
  • ~400 came to training.
  • Assigned to rooms alphabetically
  • Everyone was trained.
  • Configuration day for pre-ship students.
  • Self-Assessed skill level over summer.
  • Assigned class based on skill level.
  • All students.
  • Divide by dorm assignment.

Length of Training

  • Trainers 5 days
  • Pilot day and
  • Non-pilot 2 hours
  • Faculty 3 hours
  • Everyone had 3-hour session.
  • 1 day.
  • 2 hour, 3 hour, and 4-hour class based on skill level.
  • Tuesday and Sat.
  • 2 hours
  • 2 hrs. Monday all day Tuesday

Location of Training

  • Trainers ITC lab
  • Faculty ITC.
  • Pilot and Non-pilot Calloway
  • 10 classrooms
  • Carswell, Calloway and Library.
  • Troubleshooting room for hardware issues.
  • 15 rooms
  • Carswell, Calloway, Library, Olin, Detamble
  • 13 rooms arena style
  • Carswell and Calloway


  • 10 ACS
  • 22 Library staff
  • 10 teams 3 per team
  • 20 trainers (ACS and Library)
  • 10 RTAs
  • 15 teams 4 per team
  • ACS, Library, RTAs
  • 13 teams (3 trainers)
  • 6 cruise directors (join teams later)
  • 22 RTAs


  • Technology Guide Rita Mewing
  • Getting started CD in every computer.
  • Technology Guide Rita Mewing and Jays sister.
  • Gave handout on setting up Notes workstation (Template).
  • Technology Guide Dana Moreland-Mariotti
  • Getting Started CD registered their machine.
  • Technology Guide written by Technology Guide Committee

Evaluation Process

  • Yes, but we do not remember it
  • All in paper
  • Training survey included rating of knowledge before and after training.
  • Take home test with solution set included.
  • Online training test and survey. Test was graded. Lotus Notes Database.
  • Online

Content Development

  • Scripts written by Giz and Dirk
  • Training Task force set boundaries.
  • First draft script written by Giz, Roz, Dirk.
  • Revised 10x before training.
  • Divided into Lead, Tell, Demonstrate.
  • Trainer training every Friday for summer, went through script each week.
  • Script developed by Giz, Dirk, Roz, and Susan.
  • Skill level determined depth all got same first two hours, then extras added for skill levels.
  • Script written by Giz, Roz and Susan

Content Focus

  • The basics
  • Remedial WIN 3.11
  • Beg. Netscape 1.1/WWW
  • Beg. Eudora
  • Dynix and Firstsearch
  • Intro Office
  • Campus network
  • No network.
  • Welcome and Care and Feeding done with PPT presentation.
  • Intro to Win95
  • Intro to software load
  • OWL/Firstsearch/CD Services
  • Told about Notes
  • Campus network
  • Internet
  • CBT
  • Other resources
  • Basic: Ethics, Care and Feeding, Start Menu, Desktop, Notes Mail, Research and Classroom tools, Campus Network, Campus Printing, Getting Help
  • Intermediate: Windows95 added.
  • Long: TrackPoint 3, Beginning Word, and Beginning Internet.
  • Computing at WFU
  • Ethics and Computer Use
  • Start Menu
  • Desktop Icons
  • Research and Classroom Tools
  • WIN
  • Netscape Mail
  • Campus Network
  • Getting Help

Lessons Learned

  • Need robust network and supporting infrastructure troubleshooting, etc.
  • Limited time for preparation of trainers and materials.
  • Limited # of electronic classrooms.
  • Online registration failure.
  • Thorough orientation requires network connection.
  • Differing skill levels hinder training.
  • All students need training.
  • Some trainers had older model machine.
  • Skill level division good in theory but students lost interest in longer classes.
  • Saturday orientation failure (50% attendance).
  • Network worked well.
  • Configuration day HUGE success. Solved many problems.


1. Brown, David G, Jennifer Burg and Jay Dominick.

"Excellence in Campus Networking 1997", Wake Forest University: 2 May 1997.
Accessed 15 Nov., 1998. Available from http://www,