REDMOND, Wash., December 8, 1998 — Classrooms. Libraries. Homes. Offices. Dorms. The list goes on and on. College and university students and faculty are booting up computers to work, attend classes, communicate and learn wherever they want and whenever they need those tools.
This year, 44 percent of college classes are using email — a huge increase from 8 percent in 1994, according to a 1998 study by Campus Computing Project. In addition, almost one-fourth of all college courses are using the Web to access class materials and resources this year, compared to 4 percent in 1994, the study found. Many of these colleges and universities are using Microsoft solutions to give students access to technology, help faculty integrate technology into their courses and build state-of-the-art infrastructures needed to support their computing needs.
This week in Seattle, more than 3,000 administrators and faculty are meeting to discuss the role of technology in higher education at the CAUSE98 conference, “The Networked Academy.” The conference is sponsored by EDUCAUSE, which focuses on the management and use of computational, network and information resources in support of higher education’s missions of scholarship, instruction, service and administration.
“Home access to computers and the Internet gives students a huge advantage in achieving both their higher education and career goals,” says Richard A. Skinner, president of Clayton College and State University in Morrow, Ga. Last year, Clayton along with Floyd College in nearby Rome, Ga., began providing every student and faculty member — 8,500 at Clayton and 3,500 at Floyd — with a laptop computer loaded with Microsoft software. The so-called “Information Technology Project” includes an array of features, most notably remote, on- and off-campus Internet access via Microsoft Internet Explorer. In addition, students receive walk-up and telephone computer support, email accounts and on-campus laptop computer repair services. “Since all have the same computers loaded with the same software, our students have equal access to technology,” Skinner said.
Serving communities in the Silicon Forest, Bellevue Community College (BCC) in Bellevue, Wash. responded to local business and industry needs by creating a program that gives displaced workers and students starting new careers information technology skills in demand by employers. “It’s critical that we provide cutting-edge technology to BCC students to ensure that they succeed after graduation,” said BCC President B. Jean Floten. BCC’s “Technology Innovations Program” is a one-stop community college training program that offers students a variety of customized training courses, including Microsoft’s Authorized Academic Training Program courses designed to help students earn certification as Microsoft Certified Solutions Developers and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers.
College campuses nationwide are building strong “digital nervous systems” or linked information systems that help them increase efficiency and lower costs. Digital nervous systems also keep students, faculty, staff and alumni informed and allow their organizations to respond more quickly to change. For example, last spring Microsoft and Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, Ind. worked together to develop a custom licensing agreement that gives students, faculty and staff access to the most widely used Microsoft software, including operating systems, desktop productivity tools, server software and messaging products. Brian Voss, senior computing administrator at IU, said campus response has been overwhelming. “We’ve handed out more than 64,000 copies of Microsoft products to students, faculty and staff over the past six months — overwhelming confirmation that the agreement has been an outstanding success,” Voss said. Microsoft is committed to helping colleges and universities build “21st Century Campuses” that use information technology to enhance teaching and learning. By integrating their information systems, colleges and universities will create a “Connected Learning Community,” in which learning isn’t limited by walls, the materials on a library’s shelves or by the usual barriers of time, distance, convenience and access. Working with the higher education community, Microsoft will continue to provide colleges and universities with the programs and technology tools that help them expand learning opportunities and prepare students for success in the workplace and in life.