During the summer of 2011, Keene State College added wireless routers to Owl’s Nests, Randall Hall, and Carle Hall. The process of making all the residence halls wirelessly accessible is part of a four year master plan that the college is already two years into.
The reason that these particular halls were chosen for wireless upgrades was due to old category three wiring wiring which is out of date. The buildings themselves are old and if they had not been outfitted with wireless, there would have been more complications with the current wired connections, due in part to the many complaints and problems about it last year.
Laura Serachick, chief information officer of the Information Technology Group, worked with
Residential Life Associate Director
Jim Carley and other staff members to decide what halls were ready for the change.
“It’s very important to have wireless for teaching and learning purposes. Last year we noticed that about 6000 students were logged on to the wireless in the classrooms at one time,” Serachick said.
Not all of those devices were actively using the internet at the time, but wireless traffic on the KSC campus is still significant.
With this information, it is more clear for the IT department to see why making the campus wireless is so important. Students are looking to connect to the internet all over campus, not just in concentrated areas.
“97 percent of students come to school with a laptop,” Serachick said.
Aside from laptops, there are numerous other devices that students can link up to wireless connections. Students have more accessibility to the internet than ever with their iPods, cell phones, gaming consoles, and even some brands of TVs are all able to take advantage of wireless capabilities these days.
The campus has been undergoing changes like these for some time now, making sure that the twenty-first century is accessible by everyone.
“It took about five years to upgrade the campus to where most of the lounges and the classrooms had wireless.” Carley said.
The IT department and Residential Life have been making sure that all of the upgrades are up to speed and that there are little complications.
“Each wireless router is calculated by capacity and density, i.e. how many people can access the internet at the same time, and what the connection has to go through: walls, floors, etc.,” Serachick said.
The two departments spent a lot of time calculating factors such as these to make sure that the wireless network will meet the needs of students.
The next important action for the two departments to take concerning the wireless network is to decide what halls should be considered for the next round of upgrades.
These decisions are based on price, demand, and most importantly, which halls need it the most. As more halls are being examined for the requirements needed to give them wireless, more is known about which ones are next in line.
“Holloway is one of the halls being considered in the next set of dorms to receive wireless upgrades. However, nothing is set,” Carley said.
Last year students had no idea that the Owl’s Nest’s, Randall Hall, and Carle Hall were going to have wireless. This made some students wish that they had considered this when trying to decide which hall to live in.
William Redding, a sophomore currently residing in Huntress said, “The wireless is a very useful thing to have. Not having wireless connections in our rooms restricts where a student is able study. The wireless is something that all dorms should invest in.”
Because last year the dorms being upgraded weren’t selected until after the housing selection process, students were unable to take the possiblity of wireless into consideration.
Unlike last year, however, the team has made it clear that there will be due notice for the year to come.
“Unlike last year, everyone will know what halls will be wireless next so they can plan accordingly,” Carley said.
This will make things easier for students choosing housing on the basis of which ones have wireless or not.
“The next meeting to choose the next round of upgrades will probably be around February, no later than early spring,” Carley said.
The students in Owl’s Nests, Randall Hall, and Carle Hall are enjoying the lack of wires for the most part. Students occassionally have mentioned slow connections, but are glad to be without an abundance of wires through their room.
“I’m happy that we have the wireless,” says Ashley Burzenski, a freshman living in Randall Hall. “The connection has the occasional cutout, but it’s really nice not having to use wires.”
The joint efforts of the IT department and Residential Life offices are working as a team to ensure that all students are satisfied with the new wireless connection and that the transition from wired to wireless is smooth.
“So far, there have been very few calls or complaints about the new wireless. If you have any problems with the wireless or any other technological devices, call the IT Help Desk and we will resolve it as soon as we can,” Serachick said.
For now, there isn’t too much insight on who is next to have their computers checking emails, iPods surfing the net, and gaming consoles in all-out war next year.
As this year progresses, the remaining buildings will be examined and assessed on their needs to support wireless. Thankfully, it won’t be very long before we know. As technology constantly evolves, so too must Keene State College.
Eric Jedd can be contacted at email@example.com