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Mercer’s Wi-Fi not always there when you need it

in CAMPUS/VIEWPOINTS by

Mercer’s Student Center does boast a strong Wi-Fi signal, but if you want to use Wi-Fi devices anywhere else, you may be out of luck.

I had a class in ET building last summer, and I learned to expect the Wi-Fi signal to be unpredictable and sometimes next to impossible to use, but ET looks good compared the CM building, where the student Wi-Fi signal is close to non-existent and unusable.

Catherine De Blaiso, a Nursing student in her second year after transferring to Mercer, says she uses Wi-Fi the three days a week she is here but would love to see more Wi-Fi on campus. “All my science courses are in the MS building. There’s like no Wi-Fi there whatsoever.” De Blaiso noted that to take an online nursing test she wound up in the cafeteria of the Student Center, hardly and easy place to concentrate.

Ryan Monchek, a second year Computer Science major, says he uses Wi-Fi “almost all of the time.” He sees the need for greater Wi-Fi access saying, “If I’m working in a computer lab or something and I need to get something for my computer or my laptop to another area, I can’t do it in there. The process is a little too long.”

Susan Bowen, Executive Director of Information Technology Services, also sees the need for more Wi-Fi on campus. Bowen explained to me that the biggest thing holding back the expansion of Wi-Fi on campus, at least for now, is funding.  “We have no funding this year to expand more than what we currently have,” Bowen said.

It might be argued by some instructors that having Wi-Fi readily available everywhere on campus could be a distraction to students.  I argue that that Pandora’s Box has already been opened with students using Internet capable cell phones. Furthermore there are ways to turn on and off access to student Wi-Fi in their class rooms.

I believe that laptop computers will become more and more integral to the learning process in the near future. As this happens, Internet content will become more essential to the learning process.  Instructors will have almost unlimited resources available as their classes navigate online.   For this Wi-Fi will become a necessity for classrooms of the 21st Century.  If expanding Wi-Fi is not a budget priority, intuitions of higher learning may find them selves stuck it the past unable to accommodate the students of tomorrow. They will be forced to play catch-up with schools, whose decision makers were more forward thinking.

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