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Education Technology

The Changing Face Of Campus Tech 346

Posted by timothy
from the personal-notetaking-droids dept.
SeaDour writes "CNET News has an interesting perspective on the changing face of technology on campus. These days, students are showing more interest in the tech perks that campuses have to offer, and universities are taking notice. Duke University, for example, just gave away free iPods to each of their 1,650 incoming freshman. Penn State offers subsidized access to Napster 2.0 for all students, and many other schools are now considering similar programs with Rhapsody and Cdigix. Perhaps the best offering is wireless internet access, which 90% of campuses now offer in some form. Are we seeing the day when college students make their school of choice not based solely on academics or athletics, but also on tech freebies like these?"
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The Changing Face Of Campus Tech

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:21PM (#10173418)
    I chose my University in part because they had network access ports in every dorm room, a good online paper (which I eventually ran), a bunch of computer labs, etc. And it wasn't even a tech-heavy school.
  • Wireless Access (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RWarrior(fobw) (448405) * on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:27PM (#10173462)
    I'm obviously in the 10% of campuses. [cc.tx.us] I was informed last week that I'm not permitted to bring my laptop onto campus at all, even if I don't connect it to the wired network.

    And the wireless network used to exist, but it was taken down because (holy shit!) students were sitting out in the parking lot using it.

    Bastion of education, that.
  • by iammaxus (683241) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:33PM (#10173512)

    Yeah, as a student preparing to go to college in a year, I'm rather unhappy about all the "freebies", too. No student should be looking at such things when choosing a college because it should be blatantly obvious that these "freebies" are coming straight out of your own tuition. People don't want to buy a bundle including things like free music when they pay for college, they want education.

    Incidentally, I think this is a really good example of how a few colleges, like Duke, are really riding on, what I would say is, irrational demand. In the last few years, Duke has really gotten a surge in interest from students and it definitley doesn't correspond to some sort of surge in Duke's educational record. Duke sees that its making money off just being "cool" and its trying to keep this wave going a bit longer with scams like this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:34PM (#10173515)
    High-end computing is a far more interesting tech resource than ipods.

    I liked the fact that my university had excellent internet connectivity (rare in '86) and pretty substantial computers (a dec running ultrix, various TOPS/20 systems; and a couple years later, lots of Sun and Dec workstations) even undergrads could use.

    If I went to a univ. today; Beowulf clusters and Internet2 would be the tech benefits I'd look for.

    {ps. mod parent up. universities were always good places for state of the art technology - duh)

  • Athletics? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ancient Devices King (469802) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:35PM (#10173527)
    Are we seeing the day when college students make their school of choice not based solely on academics or athletics, but also on tech freebies like these?

    For those students who aren't on an athletic team, how are the athletics at a school any different from "perks" like internet access? I would actually argue that the ability for students to get work done more easily (like on laptops on a lawn on a nice day) should be more important for students considering where to go than the possibilty of the school's football team to go to a bowl game.
  • by Black Acid (219707) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:35PM (#10173531)

    The best campuses are offering Internet2 [internet2.edu] connectivity -- I wouldn't even consider going to a college without Internet2 access. The main advantage of Internet2, besides speed, is that it is separate from the regular Internet1, and less susceptible to monitoring by third parties such as corrupt administrators and the questionable activities of BayTSP and others.

    I've been using I2Hub [i2hub.com] for a couple weeks at my college and am very impressed. All the benefits of fast Internet P2P at college, without the drawbacks (i.e., the RIAA suing you).

    Personally I don't buy the subsidized Napster or other music service access. I would rather choose a college based on its academic credibility, performance, a rigorous curriculum and dedicated teachers. College is an investment, and while access to these services may seem nice, I doubt many students will choose colleges entirely based on this. You would get much more out of going to a well-respected established universe than a cheap fly-by-night college that gives out useful gadgets for free to lure you in to paying for a four-year education. That said, Internet2 and iPods are invaluable, but I think of them more as gifts than a deciding factor in choosing which campus to matriculate to.

  • by pHatidic (163975) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:39PM (#10173556)
    The only reason Duke is popular is because of their basketball team. Before the team their school was practically unknown, and only after their team started winning did more people want to apply and the admissions standards went up, even though the education is still mediocre. Same thing happened to Boston College through their hockey team, a previously unknown random 2nd rate catholic school suddenly became wildly popular because of one or two stars. The people that pay a huge premium to go to these sports colleges are being hugely ripped off, whereas huge research schools that accept more kids get ranked relatively poorly because more kids equals lower admissions standards by definition.
  • Re:Freebies ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bedouin (248624) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:43PM (#10173587)
    All of this crap was included in my 'technology fees' every semester. Though, I lived off campus and (aside from using wireless, and the school's E-Mail system) I had no use for it. Half of the computers in the labs were on the fritz anyway; surely if I were forced to do my day-to-day assignments there I'd be afraid of data loss.

    "why are my school tuition fees being spent on frivilous sundries benefiting 3rd party companies instead of improving my schools educational resources"

    Better question is how come that money isn't spent equally on diverse platforms (i.e. Mac, Linux, Sun, whatever). Instead, MS buys out the entire college.

    At my school the technology desk used to send Mac users to me whenever they needed help setting up their wireless connection or accessing the school network. I had no problem with that, because their alternative policy was "not Windows, not supported." To the school's credit though not everyone was incredibly closed-minded. I guess this is what happens though when corporate interests become infused with curriculum and budgeting.

    I wrote them a complaint after graduation.
  • by Zardus (464755) <yans@yancomm.net> on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:45PM (#10173601) Homepage Journal
    I decided to go to RPI because RPI requires that all students have relatively new laptops, and my family would have to no choice but buy me one. Boy do I wish that RPI's laptop program had never come around...

    Tech freebies are good and all, but people should really choose their college based on how much they like the location and education and such. Tech freebies will only keep one entertained for so long.
  • by Muggins the Mad (27719) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:48PM (#10173621)

    Given the choice between a "free" iPod and having better teaching staff, I'd go for the college who spent *my* money on improving the education they can give me. If I was a music or media student then maybe an iPod would be a plus. Otherwise it's just a waste of my hard earned fees.

    The Napster stuff is absolutely horrendous. To me, universities are the *last* place that should be bowing to corporate bullying and selling its students as dumb consumers. Especially using the students money to do so.

    A good wireless network would seem to me to be a better alternative to larger computer labs, and I'd say that generally is a good thing.

    I went to University to learn and have fun learning. Sure, I love iPods, but I'd rather have had more textbooks, or more teaching staff, or better equipment in the labs.

    Or cheaper fees.

    - MugginsM
  • Re:Scholarships? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MagicDude (727944) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:59PM (#10173681)
    Wouldn't that money be better off putting up scholarships for peeple who can't afford college? Or are these "freeebies" just a start of the new College Marketeering? Not even colleges seem to be immune to the ubercapitalist drumbeat these days...

    Most schools are actually not-for-profit organizations, however they do need to be capitalistic, not for money, but for students. Schools always want to get students with the best qualifications, so they'll dangle things for them to come to their school over another. Duke for example, is competining with Harvard and Yale and other similar schools for the cream of the freshman crop. Thus it's in their interest to say "Come to Duke, we'll give you a free IPod", and all other things being equal, this could be enough to sway a guy who has to pay $30000 a year to go to Harvard, or to pay $30000 a year to go to Duke, but gets a cool toy out of it. The school figures that spending a few hundred bucks per student will improve the quality of the student body more than giving one guy a full scholarship.
  • Re:Athletics? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kamel Jockey (409856) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:27PM (#10173853) Homepage

    For those students who aren't on an athletic team, how are the athletics at a school any different from "perks" like internet access?

    I wouldn't consider student athletes to be receiving any perks at all. Sure they may go to school for free or for reduced cost, but look at that they are getting in return:

    • Because such students are frequently "waved-through" their courses, they receive a watered-down-at-best education which has absolutely no usefulness in the real world.
    • They give away for free some of their best playing years of their lives when they could be making real money playing professionally.
    • The university receives all the benefits of their work while the student athlete shoulders all of the burden.
    • And of course, if such students are the victims of career-ending injuries while in college, they are totally screwed. They can't fall back on their worthless education and they will most likely flunk out of class due to being forced to do "real" academic work like everyone else.

    Contrary to popular belief though, collegiate sports is a huge money-maker for any given university. A profitable athletic program can easily subsidize the academic activities of a university... provided they don't waste the money giving away useless freebies like iPods and Napster subscriptions to students.

  • by segmond (34052) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:33PM (#10173881)
    That do be lovely!

  • by vandoravp (709954) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:34PM (#10173884) Homepage
    I'm thinking about RPI but not because of the laptop requirement or any other perks like that they offer. It offers a good mixture of what I'm interested in and flexibility. My parents said they are going to get me a nice laptop no matter where I go (instead of a car, personally I think it's a good trade) so that doesn't matter at all. All of the other places I'm looking at (such as CMU, Lehigh) all have offers of some kind but that hasn't really weighed in on my decision so far. I think those freebies are more for people who are really unable to decide between two schools that are otherwise the same. Or they could just be to catch people's attention and get them interested in the school to begin with- a lure of sorts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:39PM (#10173906)
    These days it's becoming very important to look at the technology a school offers, but not because of ipods and mp3s. A lot of schools have implemented amazingly draconian policies on internet use. Blocked ports, bandwidth limits that prevent you from downloading linux all at once, and other measures that would outrage most slashdotters if they came from an ISP (like, say, comcast, which I'm sure many of you hate) have become common in colleges. And very often there's so little bandwidth, or so much abuse (even where there are harsh policies) that legitimate users can barely connect at peak times. Going to a school with a liberal internet use policy and enough bandwidth to serve everyone can make a huge difference.

    Technology is also a great way to gauge the school's general attitude toward students. If they screw you over in internet access, they'll screw you over in other things you care about too. If they're willing to spend money to give the students first-class technology, other things will probably be decent too.
  • UAH missed that boat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KingPrad (518495) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:45PM (#10173933)
    My campus - University of Alabama Huntsville - is not progressing in terms of offering tech perks to students. CNS (Computer and Network Services) has installed tons of new routing hardware to run dynamic VLANs on the residence hall and student apartments. Now we get to log on with our social security numbers and leave a java applet running in our system try 24/7 for network access.

    Over the summer they extended port blocks that already included all filesharing and bittorrent to cover other connection types. Remote desktop no longer works, and neither do several major MMO games that rely on peer connections. So in the end we no longer have static IPs, our network usage is monitored, we get to send our social security numbers all across the network, and the network is slower than it has ever been. It is a good day if I can stream an NPR broadcast.

    The best part is they instituted the logins and java monitoring applet AFTER student leases were renewed and without telling us beforehand. So now I and some friends are stuck in our 9-month leases under network usage terms we don't accept. Am I pissed? yeah.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:49PM (#10173954) Homepage
    Stanford has a bus system, with about four simple loop routes. The newest buses have

    During the dot-com boom, Stanford was getting about a 20% return on the endowment, and they got carried away. Then when the market tanked, they started hitting on us alumni for more money.

  • Re:Freebies ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by typhoonius (611834) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:05AM (#10174031) Homepage

    Better question is how come that money isn't spent equally on diverse platforms (i.e. Mac, Linux, Sun, whatever). Instead, MS buys out the entire college.

    I go to NCSU, which is primarily an engineering school. All of our servers run on Solaris, and there are Suns all over campus. There are also numerous Windows 2000 workstations (and even a handful of Win2k servers doing non-critical stuff). We have a lab full of Red Hat Linux machines (all the x86s are Dells). We also have a number of Macs, including a lab full of G5s in the design school (which also has an OS 9 lab with a few Cubes). Students in the College of Engineering are required to take a course on Unix their first semester.

    Not all schools are Microsoft shills, if it makes you feel any better.

  • Re:Scholarships? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by base3 (539820) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:33AM (#10174172)
    Ah, the good old "different pot of money" argument. What difference does it make whether the money for the iPods comes from "technology fees" or out of general tuition. Let me tell you a dirty little secret: the administration can move money from whatever pot to whatever pot it wants--the pots only have meaning when they're being used to screw the students.
  • by roumada (684718) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @02:51AM (#10174812)
    The school I attend has a fairly good record in sports, which translates into substantial revenue from merchandizing, selling rights to televise games, etc. It would be interesting to look at the numbers, but I believe some sports make money. Now, whether or not there is a net profit once all sports are taken into account is questionable, but if this were the case, sports wouldn't be so useless after all. I still don't watch the games though...
  • Re:Deeply obvious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jsebrech (525647) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @06:15AM (#10175469)
    It would be surprising if a free iPod didn't have a deciding effect on 95% of the applicants.

    My school offers free colocation to students. Had I known that before I enrolled, I wouldn't have doubted so much about whether or not to go there.
  • Re:Buying students (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wobblie (191824) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @07:38AM (#10175710)
    Of course, college students today are mostly on the public dole in the form of grants, government-insured loans (many of which are defaulted upon, passing cost to the taxpayer), and federal aid to their school. So what do they care?


    "Pulic dole" for a $40,000 / year school? No fuckin way. the default rate on student loans was ~5% in 2003, so I don't know where you get this "many of which a defaulted upon" figure from. Do you know what happens to you if you default on a student loan? Try not paying taxes for about 5 years. Defaulting on a student loan is worse; much worse.

    What you are seeing is evidence of increasing wealth disparity. These students are "subsidized" by mommy and daddy and usually no one else. No one gets 40,000 a year in fuckin grants.

  • Old Europe (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @08:32AM (#10175929)
    In Germany, University Education is basicly free (as in speech and beer). Nevertheless, every university boasts free internet access in halls and all departments, free WiFi-Access, free (also online) access to scientific literature (including all major journals) and of course a wide range of other, technical and non-technical services (from sports facilities to child care). As far as I know, roughly the same applies to the rest of the European Union, apart from Great Britain and Ireland. Students choose their university based on academic quality, reputation and, often, on the geographic location (near their parents or far away from their parents).

    It is a matter of the preferences a society takes. Many people in Europe feel that education (basic and higher) is a human right and that it therefore is right to expend large sums on it out of the common instead of the student's pocket.

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