Wireless Movement Dominating Campus IT Change

Wireless Movement Dominating Campus IT ChangeA steady growth in the use of wireless networks on American college campuses represents one of the most significant trends in the higher education information technology (IT) landscape, according to the academy’s most widely recognized technology survey.
In the latest release of the Campus Computing Survey by Dr. Kenneth Green, the increase in wireless networks was reported among all levels of academe from large public and private universities to community colleges. The 2003 survey data reports that 77 percent of the participating campuses have wireless LANs on campus, up from 68 percent in 2002 and 29 percent in 2000. Fourteen percent say they have full-campus networks this year, more than four times the number of schools that reported full-campus networks three years ago.
“Wireless is clearly exploding across college campuses, much as it has in the corporate and consumer sectors,” says Green, the founding director of the Campus Computing Project and a visiting scholar at Claremont Graduate University in California. “Rising expectations about wireless services are fostered in part by the recent, dramatic growth of inexpensive WiFi in the consumer sector.”
In its 14th year, the Campus Computing Project survey documents IT growth and change in higher education and is based on responses by senior campus officials representing 632 public and private universities and colleges in the United States. The most recent survey was released in late 2003.
Green reports that wireless networking, which allows users mobile access to a campus Internet connection from their laptops and other computing devices, has grown despite widespread cuts in IT budgets. Campus budget reductions and mid-year budget cuts have hit campus IT departments hard, according to the survey. Forty-one percent of the survey participants reported that budget cuts impinged on academic computing in the 2003-2004 academic year, an increase from nearly 33 percent in 2002 and 18 percent in 2001.
In another major trend in higher education IT, colleges and universities are taking dramatic steps to stem the unauthorized distribution of digital content on campus networks, the survey shows. Some two-thirds, or 66.2 percent, of the campuses participating in the survey say they have institutional policies aimed at stopping the downloading of commercial music and video from the Internet. These policies are most prevalent among universities: 80.9 percent for public universities and 77.5 percent for private universities have campus conduct codes that concentrate on downloaded commercial content. In contrast, about two-thirds of both public and private four-year colleges have codes of conduct regarding downloaded commercial content. Just half, or 49.6 percent, of community colleges in the 2003 survey have campus policies that address the issue of downloaded content.
“The 2003 data confirm that colleges and universities are making significant efforts to respond to the concerns of media industry officials regarding the unauthorized distribution and downloading of music, video and other commercial content on campus networks,” Green says.
Though not condoning the unauthorized downloading of music and video from the Internet, Green points out that college students have become an easy target for the entertainment industry to focus their policing efforts. 
“While growing numbers of consumers now have access to high-speed networks from home, media industry groups that are understandably unhappy about the proliferation of digital content on the Internet continue to focus on college students because they represent a large, easily identifiable and easily targeted population,” Green says.
Information on the Campus Computing Project is available at <www.campuscomputing.net> or by calling (818) 990-2212.  



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