Wireless options help Jackrabbits keep online campus connections

Ruth Brown

Ruth BrownOpinion Editor

SDSU students are on their way to having wireless Internet at almost all campus locations thanks to what is known as the Active Learning Cloud.

Last year’s 80 wireless Internet access points throughout the residence halls have increased to 466 access points. The university should have more than 850 points campus-wide by October.

“We now have well over 800 access points campus-wide, making wireless much easier for laptops to access,” said Mike Adelaine, vice president for information technology. “Berg and Bailey (Halls) also have more bandwidth and were rewired for Ethernet.”

Adelaine said the intent of AL Cloud was never to make SDSU a completely wireless campus because some of the programs used in the classrooms would be too slow with just wireless.

Last fall SDSU students utilized Mathews Hall as its pilot residence hall to assess whether a completely wireless hall would be viable. By the end of the semester university officials discovered the 37 access points installed were not efficient enough to suffice for the students living in Mathews, which can host 382 students at full capacity.

“Mathews was a trial and we found that is really didn’t work out the best, and some laptops weren’t capable of using that kind of access point,” Adelaine said.

To provide Mathews’ residents with faster Internet access SDSU re-installed Ethernet ports. This fall its students have both Ethernet and wireless Internet in their hall. Ethernet is available in every room and wireless Internet is accessible throughout the residence hall.

The university has spent approximately $900,000 on implementing AL Cloud, some of which came from student technology fees and some from the residence hall fee base.

In April 2009 the Board of Regents made the decision to have a $6 student technology fee per credit hour to help implement AL Cloud and other technology on campus.

“The Regents set that fee increase and then the residence hall fee base is $65 for each student,” Adelaine said.

By mid-October Information Technology plans to have everything in place needed to virtualize applications in course work, Adelaine said.

Another portion of the AL Cloud goal is not just implementing wireless Internet but also updating classrooms.

“Currently we updated 20 classrooms in addition to all of the new access points,” Adelaine said. “Fifteen classrooms were updated this summer and by October all classrooms will have wireless access.”

The updated classrooms have wireless Internet, new projectors, smart boards, and other technology that makes courses more user-friendly and modern.

“Smart classrooms help students be interactive in class and they can use their laptop to display their work in class,” Adelaine said.

Adelaine said the number of access points in each building or residence hall depends on what the structure is made of.

“For example Mathews has 66 access points and Pierson and the new residence halls have 73 access points,” he said. “Mathews is made up of a lot of brick and steel so it is going to need more points.

Caldwell on the other hand only has 31 access points but that’s a lot more compared to last fall when it only had three (access points),” he said.

This summer 130 faculty members went through training on how to implement AL Cloud’s features and technology into their classes.

Mary Bowne, assistant professor of early childhood education, helped to inform faculty members of their options at the training operation.

“I talked a little about what I do in my courses, but we also stress that if it doesn’t work for you, don’t use it,” Bowne said.

She said AL Cloud could provide many benefits.

“I think it will really bring awareness and exploration on what’s available to you and how it will help your course,” Bowne said. “In my online courses we have wonderful discussions that probably wouldn’t happen in a classroom because some students are more reserved.”

AL Cloud is a five-year plan that will be done in 2013. More infrastructures are needed and the plan will likely adjust as technology continues to develop.

“We hope to develop a strategy that is able to move in different directions as new technology comes into play,” Adelaine said.

#1.1573168:1057340450.jpg:Brianna Kunf, freshman, represents many other students who lack wireless internet across campus.:Brianna Kunf, freshman, represents many other students who lack wireless internet across campus.:COLLEGIAN PHOTO BY RYAN ROBINSON