Several of the courses offered in the BIT programs require that students purchase textbooks to further their studies in addition to the lectures. A list of books needed for a term will be provided by the instructor for each particular course in the course outline. Students are normally given the option of purchasing their textbooks at the Carleton or Algonquin Book Store, at a third party book store, online, or used from upper year students. Keep in mind instructors routinely upgrade to new editions of existing textbooks or change to a completely new one from year-to-year, and thus only the Carleton Book Store is guaranteed to have the correct books in stock at the beginning of every new school term. In the case where only a part of a text is required for the course, instructors will attempt to get permission from the publisher to make photocopied course packs available to students at a considerable discount.
Students should speak with their instructor before making the decision of buying either an older edition of a required textbook or a substitute text. If older editions of a text are still permissible, students may also attempt to borrow a copy from the MacOdrum Library (if available) before deciding whether or not to purchase the newer edition.
Some courses, such as Physics, also require students to purchase a lab manual and lab supplies such as report booklets. Lab Manuals for Physics courses are sold at the Sciences Store (118 Steacie Building); Lab Report booklets are sold at the Carleton Book Store.
Algonquin College also offers students a book and technology store. For further information go to www.bookstore.algonquincollege.com
All schools involved in the BIT Degree programs provide access to a large number of computers both in class and for general access; these computers are installed with up-to-date software relevant to the courses students will take. Some students may wish to purchase their own machine for a variety of reasons and should consider the following information:
None of the programs endorse a specific brand of computer and a student's own preference and available funding will determine their eventual outlay. In general, we recommend something from reputable manufacturers, especially from the aspect of longevity, such as HP, DELL, Apple, and Lenovo (however, please note that we do not use the Apple OS)
Regardless of the manufacturer, the computer should be a Laptop, Laptop/Tablet Hybrid, or a Desktop, due to the requirements of the courses. Net Books and pure Tablets are not specifically recommended as they lack the power capacity for certain applications.
Laptop vs. Desktop
The choice of purchasing a Laptop or a Desktop will depend on (a) cost, (b) handwriting, (c) weight.
- Cost - laptops cost more and provide less (compared to a Desktop), in addition they are difficult/expensive to upgrade (e.g. you can add memory, but most will not allow the swapping of the graphics card).
- Handwriting - if you are not very good at handwritten notes, a laptop can be valuable in taking notes in class; they enable you to keep clear, searchable, notes for the courses that do not provide them online.
- Weight - the average weight of a laptop is around 2kg (with cables). The more powerful the laptop, the more it weighs (especially those with bigger screens and better CPU's and graphics cards); if they need to be hauled to/from class every day it can be a considerable burden.
If cost is not the major consideration, your handwriting is not very legible, or you just want the convenience of everything being with you all the time, then a laptop can be ideal - but make sure the weight is acceptable to you (imagine carrying this everywhere). A powerful laptop is just an expensive desktop if it's always left in your room.
If you are not bothered about using one every day or think you will upgrade over time (4 years is a long time in terms of computer hardware) then a desktop can be more suitable; and just carrying a hard drive to/from school can be sufficient.
A good CPU and plenty of memory will serve you well for 4 years; at least 16GB is recommended as of writing and more if you wish it to last longer. Consider getting 16GB now with space for another 16GB in a few years is also a good way to spread the cost. For a desktop, the Intel Core i7 is currently a good CPU to have; however you can compare a prospective purchase against other CPU's using the following benchmark ( www.passmark.com ); the Intel Core i7-9700KF @ 3.60GHz is a good CPU to compare against (price/performance wise).
Most hard disk drives are of a sufficient size nowadays to hold the files that will be used; so speed is more of an issue. The Solid-State Drives (SSD) are a little more expensive than HDD (Hard Disk Drives), smaller, but very fast (and theoretically more reliable); however they don't tend to come in sizes much bigger than 1TB right now. You might also consider two hard disk drives: one for the OS (which can be smaller and slower) and one for data (which can be faster) which would balance costs (performance & capacity).
The NET/IRM/OSS programs only require a standard graphics card (even a built-in graphics card is sufficient). For IMD students, a decent graphics card will be required, although most intense applications will occur from the 3rd year - therefore it can be advisable to purchase a standard card now and then invest in a more powerful one after your 2nd year. Currently, a NVidia GeForce 1060 or above is considered around the level required (especially to run VR applications), but power requirements need to be taken into account (i.e. make sure when purchasing the computer that the power supply meets the requirements of these graphics cards).
For everyday backup, we would recommend cloud storage (currently, Carleton has a deal with Microsoft offering 1TB of storage free), but Google Drive, or DropBox are also good choices. If you are in the IMD program, you might consider an external hard drive for day-to-day storage needs.
We often recommend that students wait until after their first year to purchase a computer; or at least until the first term is well underway. This will enable them to get a feel for how the program is set out, how they will use the computers available, and whether they feel the need for the investment. This will enable them to invest in a better computer when they need it most.
While the School of Information Technology has arranged computer labs for students to complete all their work during the school year, purchasing your own copies of the software to learn at your own pace at home or in your dorm room might be a wise decision. Some instructors also expect that most students have a working knowledge of the software before entering first year. Carleton University has agreements set up with software makers to offer students the resources they need at an affordable price. Software can be purchased at student prices at the Carleton Book Store (UC172). Some Microsoft software can also be downloaded through the Azure program. More information can be found at azureforeducation.microsoft.com/devtools .
Interactive Multimedia & Design / Information Resource Management
The IMD and IRM programs use Windows 10 x64Bit and therefore it is expected that students should be able to submit assignments for this platform. Therefore the purchase of a personal computer or laptop should take this into account (e.g. it should be a Windows-based machine or a Macintosh capable of running in Windows Mode).
Network Technology / Optical Systems
The NET and OSS programs use a mix of Windows 10 x64Bit and Linux. Therefore, it is expected that students should be able to submit assignments for these platforms. Therefore the purchase of a personal computer or laptop should take this into account (e.g. it should be a Windows-based machine with the ability to run Linux if additional requirements are expected).
Other recommendations on software will come on a class-by-class basis and due to the ever-changing nature of software, it may be different year-to-year (at least in version).