Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas and the College Student 2011

Yes, it is that time of year. Our campus is about to take the Thanksgiving mini-break before the home stretch to finals and then the Christmas break. I have a had tougher time each year thinking of great tech Christmas gifts for the college student. This fall we saw that students having multiple wifi gadgets. This causes real challenges for network administrators, but the trend is unstoppable. So what more could the college student need in the world of tech? Here is my list from what I have seen this year:

The tablet, not just the iPad, but other models as well are still not seen in large numbers on campus. I think cost is driving this to a large degree (about $500 for the base model, with no 3G). There are still few Apps out there that will make a difference acedmically, but the convenience of carrying a 2 pound wireless internet device cannot be understimated. Some students are already using tablets to buy and access e-texts. Still, $500 is a lot of money.

The flash drive, is still a great and inexpensive gift. A 32GB drive can be bought for under $35 this year. This is pretty amazing. Students can carry every paper they have ever written, thousands of photos and even a few movies in their pockets.

Cloud storage is new this year. Carbonite and Mozy offer subscription auto backups from the students laptop over the internet. The cost is about $55 a year and the backup worries go away. A damaged, stolen or lost laptop is bad enough. Losing the stuff on your hard drive could really be a heart breaker.

The bluetooth hands free cell phone device is now a legal necessessity in most states. students are always on the phone and being able to do this safely and legally is imprerative now. Most students drive cars which do not have bluetooth already installed. Jabra, among others, offer agood hands free solutions. Models vary, but you can buy an ear attached device for about $50.

22" to 32" monitor with speakers . This will enable the student to plug in the laptop and use Hulu or Netflix to watch TV from their laptop on demand. These large monitors can be had for $149 to $199. Who needs cable TV anymore.

How about a speaker system to turn the PC into a top of the line stereo? I like the Bose Companion for less that $100. There is a three piece sytem for a view dollars more.

College students have so many credit courses to complete to meet degree requirements, no matter what the major. I have noticed that few programs give students hands on experience with web page development, blogging, or media (film and audio) creation. I am not saying that a student needs to be expert in these areas, but the web and media are the new platform communication and will be, regardless of professional area persued. Having some basic skills in these areas might help them get that first job or help them market themselves. I would suggest that they take a non-credit course at the local community college in the summer or winter term. These are generally 4-5 week short courses (one evening a week) and they can provide basic skills than can be added to the resume.

Last, don't forget about the stocking stuffer. I know I always like getting an iTunes card or Amazon gift certificate for music. You can spend as little as $15 and go up from there. The goal is too stay legal and away from the music police, while enjoying their favorite music.

Addition: I just thought of this one. Almost all students have a laptop (over 98% at my campus), but how many have a mouse that can easily attach? I know I hate using the odd mouse like features of laptops. The mini mouse, wired or not wired, is a great stocking stuffer. I like Logitech equipment for price and durability, but you can find these every where and rarely are they more that $20. Think mini-mouse.

Please feel feel to send in a comment with your own ideas and I will share them. Happy holidays.