Trying to keep pace with the latest in high-tech educational tools, the University purchased two wireless computer carts for use starting this fall. The carts, which will carry up to 30 laptop computers, turn regular classrooms into computer labs. Through wireless signals received by the cart, each laptop can be linked to the University’s main computer network as well as the Internet.
”We have the computer labs, but with this we‘re taking the lab environment into the classroom structure,“ says Bob Cotter, coordinator for instructional media services.
The carts are being viewed as experimental to see how well the technology works, how great faculty interest is, and what‘s the best way to use them, says Cotter. Most of the schools the University consulted with use the carts simply as a replacement for traditionally hardwired computer labs. Xavier, he says, sees the carts being used more like other media equipment—delivered to various classrooms on an as-needed basis. Certain classes, he says, need to be interactive just a few times a semester, and trying to schedule those classes into one of the University‘s three computer labs isn‘t practical or economical.
The carts were purchased from money collected from the student technology fee instituted four years ago. More carts may be purchased in the future, once wire-less technology, one of the computer industry‘s fastest growing segments, becomes more established. ”We‘re trying to push this,“ Cotter says, ”without disrupting the way things operate now.“
Illustration by Mike Prinzo