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BYOD on a University Campus: A Student’s Perspective

July 31, 2012 - 2 Comments

There is a new generation of college students out there, I would know as I recently was one of them.  Information being at your fingertips is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.  Professors’ expectations of their students have increased dramatically due to the wealth of information on mobile devices.  Every class I attended leveraged some form of wireless access to the web.  Instant message in response to real-time questions and online submissions are just two of many examples of how network access has been integrated into the education system.  Professors would consistently use online tools such as online drop boxes for projects and web conferencing tools.  According to MarketWire 92% of college students feel a laptop is a necessity, this indicates that the requirement of mobile access at a university is a given and the college experience is defined by the ease of that access. 

Professors are on tight schedules and are generally available only at certain times of the day.  Imagine- wanting to contact a professor during open hours only to fall short because your laptop had difficulty getting any kind of connection.  I remember the frustrations of wanting to revisit PowerPoint presentations on a class website in the library, only to realize that I was sitting by the one window notorious for being a wireless dead zone.  Dorms were infamous for spotty coverage.  Having the dorm room located closest to the access point for best access was purely by luck of the draw.  I was not so lucky.  In my dorm, you would not get any wireless access unless you were sitting right next to the hallway.  That’s why I am especially envious of the students of Colorado University, whose alma mater upgraded to enterprise-class coverage. 

In a recent case study, Colorado University took on the commitment to enable their 30,000 students and 7,000 employees with pervasive wireless access using Cisco products.  To date, they have deployed over 2,400 access points!  Colorado University leverage Cisco’s breadth in portfolio of access points to deploy 802.11n access points.  802.11n kicks up the wireless network performance by up to six times that of legacy technologies.  For areas that are more crowded and prone to interference, Colorado University deployed the higher end access points leveraging CleanAir technology to identify and mitigate interference.  Again- that means optimal mobile experience for the student and staff. 

With so many access points deployed, imagine the nightmare in managing, configuring and monitoring all 2,400.  By using the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Wireless Service Modules (WiSM), Colorado University was able to deploy a controller-based wireless Cisco network that would satisfy their current growing need of increased faculty and student body.  As per Cisco’s scale as you grow model, Colorado University intends to upgrade its service as needed. Colorado University now has the ability to centrally monitor their network 24×7.  They can identify rouge users or network interference, and centrally report on the full campus wireless network.  Colorado University’s wireless network has only benefitted from Cisco’s influence. 

By the time students enter a university; they already have their phones and laptops of choice on hand and are looking for wireless access so they can always be connected on the go.  They only way they can do that is if they are provided with pervasive access.  The success of Colorado University’s wireless deployment is a prime example of what it means to have a great network.  It almost makes me want to go back to college again… almost.

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  1. Good post, Rahul. Could you please share more examples of how “Professors’ expectations of their students have increased dramatically due to the wealth of information on mobile devices”? Thank you.

    • Of course I could Silvia, and thank you for your comment. It is my belief that with the wealth of information that students now possess by simply leveraging their smart devices, professors in turn expected more out of them. Students who wish to succeed must go beyond their textbooks at the drop of a hat to be able to speak on a wide range of topics depending on the class and its content. Personally I felt as if I was not going above and beyond when I was able to use my mobile devices in this way, but it was what was expected of me and my classmates.