Page 20 - Campus Technology, January/February 2020
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With these advancements, students now have seamless connectivity and experience very few performance issues with their devices — no matter the number.
Predictable funding models are essential. Tra- ditionally, colleges and universities (and really, most businesses and organizations) have pur- chased WiFi as a large capital expense. Every few years (many wait way too long — some upwards of seven to eight years), they would cough up a big chunk of money to replace their current wire- less infrastructure with a new system.
This poses some big challenges, which are only compounded as the speed at which tech- nology is changing continues to accelerate. Today, it’s nearly impossible to innovate under a CAPEX model. Technology lifecycles are short- ening. For wireless networks to support the newest devices, they need to be upgraded at least every four to five years. It’s time to think of your wireless infrastructure — and particularly your ResNet — as a service instead of just replacing network equipment.
For example, take SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, both part of the State University of New York system, which were featured in Talk- ing Stick. With the explosion of digital, mobile and social applications, the schools were under pressure to ensure a high level of “satisfaction” and that meant providing better and faster WiFi everywhere — all while controlling escalating infrastructure and support costs. To achieve this, SUNY Canton/Potsdam partnered with higher ed ResNet provider Apogee to defer upfront capital expenses, yet promptly set up a wireless network that scales as technologies and student needs evolve. Both institutions now enjoy a nice level of stability and predict- ability to their budgets.
It was a similar situation at New England Col- lege, a small liberal arts school in rural New Hampshire. In another article entitled “Residen- tial Networks: Outsource or Not” in Talking Stick, NEC discussed how it was faced with limited resources and legacy technologies and needed
to build a strong foundation for future tech investments to help the school thrive and improve the student experience. “We felt we didn’t need to go it alone and were able to extend our available resources and achieve bud- get stability,” said Carol Thomas, vice president of information technology.
Strategic focus matters. In today’s environ- ment, higher ed IT must transition from a service role to a strategic role. Instead of simply provid- ing technology, IT needs to help determine future directions and provide understanding on how technology can drive innovation to facilitate stu- dent success, teaching and learning.
Furman University, a private liberal arts school in South Carolina, is a great example of IT transi- tioning from provider to facilitator, focusing on strategic concerns instead of operational activi- ties. According to an article in the Educause Review, Furman moved its data center off premise and outsourced its student residential network to enhance internet and online services for students, which also removes the residential internet traffic load from its core university network.
Keeping an eye on the future is imperative. To stay ahead of the curve, institutions need to envision future trends like virtual classrooms, ubiquitous connectivity across multiple campus- es, cloud-based access to research, classroom and co-curricular program attendance tracking for retention, artificial intelligence to field and resolve technology issues, and much, much more. This future is coming upon us quickly.
Virtual reality is just one example. Already, schools like Western University of Health Sci- ences in Pomona, CA, are implementing VR. These VR worlds allow teachers to “take” stu- dents to otherwise impossible locations. An arti- cle in EdTech magazine noted that at Western, a virtual dissection table in the J and K Virtual Reality Learning Center lets students learn about anatomical functions by moving virtual tissues to view more than 300 anatomical visualizations, created using scans of real patients and cadavers.
It won’t be long before all institutions will

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