Technology, including the Internet, is as crucial in the field of education as it is in virtually every other area of life. Here are five technologies that should be available on every college and university campus in the nation.
1. LAN and WAN connection: Both local and wide area network connections should be available on campus so that students and faculty can communicate with each other and with the outside world. Students need the Internet to do research for their assignments. They also want to be able to write emails to each other and with their friends and relatives back at home and use social networking. Another possible use of these forms of communication involves students at different universities sharing information learned in their courses with each other. Even more important, the vast majority of institutes of higher education offer at least some of their courses online, which is good news for students for whom neither living on campus nor commuting there is a viable option.
2. Security cameras: Security cameras are indispensable for keeping students and faculty safe on campus. Some of the most common crimes committed on campus include drunkenness, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, burglary (by far the most common; these statistics are taken from ope.ed.gov) and hazing, which is an all-too-common form of initiation into fraternities and sororities. Any place that has security cameras will naturally have either a lower rate of crime or a higher rate of the offenders being arrested, brought to trial and convicted.
3. Satellite TV: One of the major uses for television on campuses is for viewing of public lectures. For instance, at Hillsdale College, where I attended classes, two lectures called Centers for Constructive Alternatives (CCAs) are held each semester, of which every student must take at least two during his term at the college. A large screen TV in the same building as the auditorium broadcasts the lectures so that if it is too crowded there one can watch them here. I personally prefer the wide screen, partly because I can see the speaker up close and it is easier to concentrate on what he is saying that way.
4. Intranet: Two other technologies that every campus should make available are intranet and extranet. They are somewhat similar to each other and to the Internet but they will be discussed separately.Unlike the Internet, which is meant to be used by the general public, an intranet connects people and makes possible the sharing of information within an organization. It has several advantages over the Internet in certain areas. One is that it makes it much faster to find and share information, so that the employees can perform their jobs more quickly and efficiently. It can be more cost effective as physical documents do not need to be maintained, the relevant data being viewable via web browser. Cross browser capability is not an issue with an intranet and operations involving the institution as a whole can be deployed to all faculty members and employees. Since every member can view the same information, an intranet can also contribute to a common “culture” within the organization.
5. Extranet: An extranet lies somewhere between an intranet and the Internet. Like an intranet, it is meant to be used by a specific organization, except that the information that it contains may be accessed by outsiders at certain times for certain purposes. In most cases those outsiders are the company’s vendors and suppliers—in the case of a college, they can include those from whom funding is being sought as well as companies that are serving as caterers. Extranets are especially useful for sharing large amounts of data and for collaborating with other institutions on development efforts. Setting up an extranet always involves implementing a network security system in order to protect sensitive data.
Other technologies might be useful on campuses for certain purposes but the ones discussed above are probably the most valuable. They are the ones that most enable the institution to serve its purpose—to provide an education for those who seek it.