UI recognized for access to wireless Internet on campus

By Lisa Chung

PC Magazine recognized the University this year as one of the “most connected, plugged-in, and high-tech campuses in the country,” ranking sixth in a list of 20. Among the 20 are Massachusetts Institute of Technology in second place and Michigan Technological University in seventh place.

Still, within the next two years, CITES will be working to expand wireless accessibility so that it is available in even more public spaces on campus, including meeting rooms, classrooms, lounges and labs, said Michael Smeltzer, Director of Network Communications for CITES.

Currently, there are 118 locations on campus that offer UIUCnet wireless hot spots, nine of which were installed in just the past three months, according to the CITES Web site.

Increased wireless accessibility on campus allows many students to complete work on their laptops while in public spaces.

Although wireless accessibility increases convenience for students, enabling the use of UIUCnet wireless hot spots anywhere may also have its downsides.

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    “It’s a two-edged sword. Some faculty incorporates wireless access into their instruction, (while) some faculty view having wireless access in classrooms a creative nuisance,” Smeltzer said.

    Robert Rushing, a professor of comparative and world literature, uses the wireless accessibility in large lecture rooms to his advantage.

    Rushing incorporates the Internet to add to his lectures by having clickable links for more information during class, said Danielle McBride, a student in his class and a freshman in LAS.

    “It gives you a broader view of what he is talking about and this puts the concepts more in context,” McBride said.

    It is not required to bring a laptop to class, but is really convenient. However, when the students who bring laptops do not follow the lecture, but instead surf the Web, it can cause some disturbance, she said.

    “It actually distracts me (when other people surf the Web) because I start looking at their computer,” she added.

    Jack Ikeda, a professor of molecular and cellular biology, does not use the Internet during his lectures and does not think it is a good idea for there to be wireless Internet available in large lecture halls where students could get sidetracked.

    “I probably wouldn’t want students to be using Internet in the classroom,” he said. “It’s probably not good for students to have access in classrooms, maybe in buildings.”

    McBride shared similar views.

    “Wireless makes a lot of things more convenient,” she said. “A lot my lecture notes are posted online, my professors e-mail a lot and many assignments are online.”

    There are many people on both sides of the fence when it comes to deciding where wireless Internet on campus should be installed.

    But the Provost Office has made the decision to install wireless “everywhere” on campus, Smeltzer said.

    “It can be both good and bad,” he said. “This is not a technology issue. This is a classroom issue, but not everyone feels that way.”