While college IT administrators have made Wi-Fi ubiquitous on their campuses, the question remains: Do faculty members even want their students accessing their mobile devices during lectures? College IT staffers say they leave the decision up to the faculty member.
Discussions with faculty have gone on for years about the benefits of wireless in classrooms and whether to let students access the network during lectures, says Andrew Heiser, executive director of information services at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.
In general, faculty members at Morningside are strong supporters of a reliable wireless network. With wireless, faculty are empowered to make their own choice and decide whether they want their students to have notebooks open during class or not, he says.
“The controversy should be curricular, not technological,” Heiser says.
Similarly, at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., faculty have their own classroom policies in place on whether to allow students to access Wi-Fi devices in class. Some allow it, while others don’t, says Param Bedi, Bucknell’s vice president of library and information technology.
Faculty who embrace Wi-Fi take advantage of the technology inside and outside the classrooms, says Matt Holmes, director of data center operations at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.
Automotive students use wireless diagnostic equipment, while dental hygiene students run more mobile devices in their classes. Many instructors also use new technologies, such as lecture capture, and make educational videos for students to watch outside of class, he says.
“As instructors use more technology tools to get information out, students want to get to that information, so they’re bringing their own devices on campus to get access,” Holmes explains.
At Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tenn., Wi-Fi is widely accepted on campus, and faculty do not have concerns about students bringing their mobile devices into classrooms, says Andy Semak, manager of network and support services.
But the testing center on campus — which lets students take makeup tests and placement tests — requires students to check in their notebook computers and other electronic gadgets to ensure no cheating occurs during the test-taking, he says.