Journalism department to give students laptops

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • April 7, 2016

The journalism department will issue computers loaded with video editing and other software to incoming freshmen this fall, according to Paul Niwa, associate professor and chair.

Niwa said the computers, called CreativityKits, will be 13-inch Macbook Airs with 256 gigabytes of storage. He said the laptops will come with the full Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft software suites, including Final Cut Pro 10.

Faculty members in the department will also receive kits. Niwa said they will receive two days of training on how to use and teach with the laptops from an Apple employee. The students will also undergo brief instruction at the beginning of the year. He said students will have full administrative control over the computers.

Niwa said the college will subsidize the first year of the program. After that, students using the laptops will pay a fee of about $250 per semester to cover the costs. He said there will be financial aid options available. Junior year, the models will be updated—revenue from recycling the old laptops will go toward the new ones.

Margaux Maxwell, a junior journalism major, said she doesn’t have a laptop and has to go to the library to work. She said she was disappointed the CreativityKits will not be made available to upperclassmen.

“As a student who has lived off campus most of my time here, it’s been a struggle to get everything done on time,” she said.

Niwa said they decided to limit the kit distribution to incoming freshman partially because it was a pilot. He said that as the journalism program at Emerson improves, the degrees of all students and alumni should become more valuable, which will indirectly benefit students not able to take advantage of the kits.

The department has been working on the project for three and a half years, according to Niwa. He said President M. Lee Pelton officially approved the CreativityKit program last winter.

Niwa said the laptops will improve the mobility of student journalists and allow for more time spent on reporting in the classroom, rather than learning new software.

“This program at its core is not about laptops,” Niwa said. “It’s about curriculum innovation.”