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Technology and the OCS Experience

Tools: Do ya really need 'em?

There are plenty of tools that you could possibly take with you on your program, but you'll want to weigh carefully all considerations before you decide to do so. It's very easy to become bogged down with many tiny bits in many bulky cases.

Below is a table of the most commonly requested items, and a series of considerations that you should take into account before deciding to go high tech on your trip.

Keep in mind that you should always allow yourself plenty of time for testing and becoming acclimated to any thing you take with you. Your Academic Computing Coordinator can help!

Item Approx. Weight/Bulk Pros Cons Battery Power Conv.
Plug Adapter
Testing / Considerations
Laptop - w/ all cables, adapters, etc. ~7 lbs. / bulky Easy access, always compatible with files, ITS may be able to help from afar Heavy, lots of little parts to keep track of, ISPs are hard to find X X Getting all files on laptop prior to departure, getting all necessary software, getting a good ISP, power conversion, plug adapters, allow lots of time for testing
Portable Printer ~5lbs. / bulky Can print most things wherever you are Not so portable, ink is pricey, heavy, slow, awkward to use X X Are there any other ways to get paper docs? Enough ink for the whole trip? Exploding ink in luggage. test, test, test
* 35mm Camera ~1lb. / varies High quality, familiar, film and processing easily avail. Not easy to share photos, not instantly viewable X Batteries?
Digital Still Camera ~1lb. / varies High quality, instantly usable photos, can store many photos, easy to backup Need storage, special batteries, not very rugged, need reliable power X X Recharging batteries, storage discs or computer necessary
* Digital Video Camera ~3lbs. / bulky High quality video Heavy, need tapes, special batteries, need reliable power X X Recarching batteries, Reliable power is critical, do you REALLY need video?
* PDA (Palm) < 1 lb. / compact small, good for calendars & alarms can't easily produce documents X recharging usually necessary or you may lose your data, computer or other backup is recommended, easy to lose
Speakers < 1 lb. / varies plays audio from any source one more thing to lug around Optional Are they powered? Should they be?
LCD Projector ~9 lbs. / bulky portable classroom heavy, complicated, many cables X projector bulb may go out, power conversion, needs a screen ...
* iPod < 1 lb. / compact small, stores files and audio, flexible interface can't modify content w/o laptop X pricey
* Blackberry < 1 lb. / compact almost worldwide email subscription fees X X no ITS support

* ITS does not provide or necessarily support these devices.


It's a sad truth that you will likely need or want some kind of e-mail access while you are traveling.

Before you go:

  • Unsubscribe or stop mail on all newsletters (NWA, NYT, journals, listservs, etc)
  • Clean your inbox, it will make Zimbra load a bunch faster
  • Export your address book to a readable format - Yes, you can take it with you!

While on the road:

  • Are there internet cafes at your location? They could save you from having to lug a laptop around
  • If you have a laptop, get an ISP. How much will it cost? Who will set it up?
  • Be prepared to lose contact! Sometimes it just doesn't work and you will have to rely on Plan B (hint: have a Plan B)

Student Support

For many of your students, this is the first time they have ever left the country. They are not used to international traveling and may not know the options they have for access to e-mail and their files.

  • The first question is: Do you want them reading their e-mail while abroad? If part of the OCS experience is being distant from the home culture, e-mail can negatively intervene. Don't be afraid to request that your students not use e-mail more than once a week or month
  • They will need limited access for getting important school info, etc. How and where will they get it?
  • ITS representatives can be available to speak or provide handouts for your pre-departure meetings. Don't forget to ask your coordinator for assistance!