U.S. News & World Report debuted their Most Connected Colleges ranking this year, honoring the schools that best leverage technology to improve the connections between students and educators. The inaugural ranking’s first place went to Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts College located in Maine. Amazingly, they beat out traditionally techie schools CMU (#10) and Harvey Mudd (#23) and Silicon Valley gem Santa Clara University (#14) not to mention CalTech (#67).  How’d they do it?

Earlier this year, Bowdoin College engaged Cisco to help develop a comprehensive, reliable, and secure indoor and outdoor wireless network throughout its campus. Cisco’s high-performance Unified Access solution delivered a robust 802.11n wireless network with integrated mobility, management, and self-healing intelligence to help enable increased student and faculty collaboration. It didn’t hurt that the network was easy to manage and scale to users campus-wide. Since the deployment, Bowdoin has been able to fully support its 1700 students and 150 full-time faculty members with their wireless needs, in addition to its ongoing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program.

Ryan Lyttle from U.S. News World and Report writes that as the “Most Connected College,” “Bowdoin provides its 1,778 students with discounts for laptops, 24-hour computer labs, wireless access from anywhere on campus, Ethernet access in all dorm rooms, and private cloud storage, among other technology offerings.”

Bowdoin’s investment across its 95 buildings deploying Cisco’s top of the line 3600 series wireless access points clearly paid off, garnering them a “79.9 out of 100 on a ‘Connectivity Index’ that takes into account the school’s Internet speed and access for students and faculty, technology resources available on campus, as well as an institution’s mobile applications and cloud storage services.” Clearly this investment has paid off, not just in the form of a top ranking, but in the general satisfaction and quality of the wireless experience for all who step onto their campus.

For more on the Bowdoin case study, visit http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/wireless/bowdoin.html

Also of note, this year, the Gilfus Education Group released its top five trends in education innovation, three of which focused specifically on higher education, demonstrating the importance of campus-wide connectivity:

  1. Prestigious universities are on the brink of launching online experiences designed to be as exceptional as those available to students on campus.
  2. Dynamic and flexible learning experience engines will emerge to replace learning management systems (LMS).
  3. Tablets and mobile devices have surged as a means for delivering courses and e-learning media.

The higher education industry is seeing a major transformation in how technology is evolving and institutions are investing more money to fund the technology needs of students and faculty staff.

Congratulations to Bowdoin for leading the charge!