by Rob Galbraith
Big improvements are in store for Western's wireless computer network thanks to another Student Technology Fee grant. This year's grant funded twenty new laptop computers for the student wireless laptop loan program as well as additional wireless access points in five new buildings.
Wireless access points were installed in the Student Recreation Center, the Fine Arts Building, Carver Gym, the Campus Services Building and the Performing Arts Center. This fills some major gaps in Western's wireless service, as these buildings previously had little or no service. As was the case with previous Student Technology Fee funded projects, the upgrades focused on lounges, study areas, and other public spaces where students are most likely to make use of the service.
New laptop computers were also purchased for the student wireless laptop loan program and are available for checkout from popular high-use areas. Ten of the new laptops will go into a new checkout location in the Student Recreation Center. The Rec Center is considered a prime location for checkouts because of its high volume of student visitors each day and also because of its long hours of service (107 open hours per week). Disabled Student Services, another new checkout location, has five laptops available at their ground-floor Old Main location and the Library received another five laptops for their perpetually busy media loan desk. The Library also received a new printer for the laptop printing which they sponsor.
A total of 96 wireless computers are now available at six different locations. The popularity of these laptops continues to grow with 4797 students registering for the checkout program, and more than 57,000 checkouts during the 2004ñ2005 school year.
Wireless technology provides opportunities for students to use laptops and to access the campus network in classroom situations and for intensive collaborative projects wherever they like to meet and study. This may be among in a quiet carrel of the Library, on the Library skybridge, on Red Square, in a classroom in the Communications building, a comfy chair at the Rec Center, or perhaps in a lounge with plenty of room to spread out and work with a group.
This is the fourth iteration of STF funding for the wireless laptop loan program. This clearly indicates that wireless access is one the most popular student technology functions since the inception of Student Technology Fee funding.