Andy Wright (Graduate Student - Information Studies)

"I use my laptop for everything!"


Age: 25
Occupation: Graduate student
School: Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto
Technology level: Programmer, uber power-user of computers, very "Web 2.0"

Main Points

  • Tech-savvy, interested in new technologies
  • Uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts
  • Comfortable in both Mac and PC platforms
  • Eager to try out new technologies
  • Diligent blogger


  • Get good grades
  • Continue to get funding to complete his masters thesis next year
  • Expand on what he's learning in school and be able to understand it in the context of work
  • Be actively involved in bike clubs and lead an social/outdoorsy life outside school
  • Keep fit
  • Continue to blog regularly to get recognition from the online community
  • Slow page load in Blackboard

Frustrations & Pain Points

  • Generic naming of course material.  For example, on professor names lecture slides with "Lecture 12" rather than the topic. 
  • Collaboratively writing papers.  Need synchronous communication, doc sharing and version control.
  • IM can be a real distraction so he only turns it on a couple hours a week.
  • Fighting with software
  • When instructors don't provide enough supplemental materials for class.  He spends a lot of time finding this kind of information himself.


  • Convert all my files to pdf for long term storage and compatibility
  • Create a trusted archive of course site so I don't have to be concerned with my current LMS
  • Know when a new assignments are posted
  • Get course information
  • Pull assignments off the course website as I grade them
  • Keep track of document versions and notify me of changes when I'm collaborating with others


Andy lives in a very "Web 2.0" world. He blogs about his bike-ride excursions, ski trips, cooking, and rock-climbing on Tumbleblog. Has an account on Facebook, uses Google Reader and shares articles with friends. He also watches courses from Open Yale, a site providing free course material from Yale. He's always reachable by phone and is a heavy SMS user, but doesn't use internet on his cell phone because it costs too much. He'd love an iPhone!

It takes Andy about 10 minutes to bike to school every day from the house he lives in off-campus with his two roommates who also go to U of T. He carries his laptop (a MacBook Pro) with him and brings it everywhere. He uses it "for almost everything," including coding in Java for his thesis, writing documents and spreadsheets, internet browsing, lots of email, chatting with friends, and graphic design. He bought his first Mac last year and used a Tablet PC previously. He's comfortable working in both Mac and PC platforms, but prefers Mac for its visual appeal and usability.

Andy uses Google Calendar to keep track of his personal and group activities. He color-codes his various kinds of activities, bike clubs, project groups, events, weather, holidays, assignment deadlines,  to help get a quick glance of what he's got going and the priority. This helps him keep track of the events he must attend vs. those of interest, as well as school-related activities vs. social activities. He often uses keyboard shortcuts whenever they are available in an application because it's quicker and easier, especially for jumping back and forth between windows and tabs.

Some of Andy's courses use the Blackboard learning management system, and the features he uses most often include: Announcements, Checking Marks (Grades), and Reference materials for lectures and projects. Assignments are distributed on Blackboard, but submitted on paper. He prints out the lecture notes from Powerpoint ahead of time and take notes on the printouts in class. He doesn't usually digitize these notes because it's so much work and he doesn't go back to the notes enough. He downloads and keeps all of the course materials from Blackboard onto his laptop, so he can refer to them as needed now as well as years from now. He is concerned he would not be able to access the contents when the semester ends or when system crashes.