Laurier technology update

WebCT, which malfunctioned on countless occasions last academic year, has been functioning without incident for the last 38 days, after only a minor hiccup at the beginning of the term. Buckley attributes the minor incident to a network malfunction and human error.

A significant investment was made over the summer to upgrade WebCT by adding additional hardware to the system.

Buckley said the improvement in WebCT’s functionality “is directly related to the investment made this summer and changes in management and support structure.”
 
Despite last year’s malfunctions, Buckley remains optimistic about this academic year.
 
“Aside from unforeseen problems, it should continue to run for students, faculty and staff the way it is designed to,” said Buckley.

Work is ongoing with the vendor of the wireless network to determine the root causes of the sporadic outages students have been experiencing. This is not a phenomenon unique to Laurier. Buckley said the problem lies in a flaw in the wireless equipment, which has been experienced by other institutions.

“An interim measure was implemented last week called Laurier Wi-Fi which is a more open-access type of wireless solution,” said Buckley.

However, Buckley said that the wireless network on campus will be reviewed over the next 10 to 12 months. He said a “modernization [of] our network architecture” was essentially needed.

“[It] is a significant investment,” explained Buckley. “I won’t put a dollar figure on it yet … but it will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“[The network] is no longer appropriate for a multi-campus environment with a large number of wireless devices,” concluded Buckley, as he says some 17,000 devices now connect daily to the wireless network on campus.

Like with WebCT, Buckley has a positive attitude when it comes to the future of wireless at Laurier, and has implemented measures like a new wi-fi network in an attempt to ease the network’s use by students.

In the future, Buckley envisions breathing new life into the Groupwise service provider for students’ e-mail accounts.

“E-mail has become a commodity service,” said Buckley. “Reliable, secure e-mail solutions are available at very low cost by providers and I think it’s appropriate at this juncture to join many other institutions and examine what the options are.”

Buckley envisions utilizing the educational (not commercial) offerings of existing providers like Google or Microsoft.

“Right now, we know that 3,000 students plus forward Groupwise e-mail,” explained Buckley. “I think that sends a very strong message and I think a very thorough examination of the educational offerings … are something we should examine.”

Changes to the technological services utilized extensively by Laurier students seem imminent.

If the improvements Buckley has mentioned continue to evolve, students can be sure they will be provided with the services that are in the best interest of increased capacity for interconnectivity through WebCT, the wireless campus network and WLU e-mail services.

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