Wireless Fidelity: The future of SMC's technological endeavors
There is talk around campus that Santa Monica College is considering offering wireless technology. This will allow students with laptops to access the internet without needing to plug in their computers.
The technology is called Wireless LAN; it provides ubiquitous computing for students ranging from first graders to graduate students.
At the college level, the technology allows students in the cafeteria to access course documents housed on university servers or to email papers to professors in between classes.
"I can't believe that SMC is taking so long implementing wireless on campus,"SMC student Stephanie Kelsey said. "I really want them to get it so I can bring my laptop to campus. I believe it will help students and teachers alike."
One of the most crucial elements in the creation of a wireless network is security. New technologies are making it easier for people to gain access to information, and schools routinely house personal information such as Social Security numbers, tax and contact information on their networks.
"My only concern is the big possibility of hackers being able to access students' personal information. How can facility managers ensure that only authorized individuals access the network?" said Patrick Okimoto, a student at SMC who is well aquainted with computers due to his current position at a computer repair shop. "They have custom-designed software systems that safeguard sensitive information."
"The technology can be archaic in a matter of months so future technology should be at the forefront of every planner's mind," Okimoto advises.
Nearly 68 percent of college and university campuses have some form of wireless network on campus as of the Fall of 2002, and 34.7 percent of all campuses without an existing wireless network that have strategic plan for establishing one.
Is SMC one of those with a plan to implement wireless capabilities? Sadia Afolabi, the current A.S. director of instructional support, said that SMC is planning to go wireless, they just don't know when.
"We are in the process of remodeling the second floor of the Cayton Center so students will be able to access the internet with their laptops, with our internet port, so they can sit outside the building and use the internet. I am hoping this will be available to students by next semester," Afolabi said.
Many students express frustration at what they perceive to be procrastination from the SMC faculty."I don't understand when so many schools offer wireless including some high schools, that SMC seems to be the last in line for this. This is supposed to be one of the best community colleges in the country with a very high transfer rate. I'm puzzled that this school, in an affluent area, is so slow catching up to technology," said Sandy Dawson, a first-year student here at SMC. "I went to a private high school, so we had wireless. I wish we had it here as well."
Some students are indifferent to the idea of a wireless campus. "I could care less," said Susan Vasile, a philosophy major. "I consider all this technology to be a hindrance. People with cell phones and iPods are really missing the opportunities to socialize with their peers. I can just as easily go to the library and access the internet there. I am probably alone in this view but I believe that all these gadgets on campus take away from the benefits of college life."
SMC student Kevin Rohan said, "I would be reluctant to take my laptop to campus; I have enough heavy books to carry, let alone a laptop, besides it is an expensive toy I don't want to lose it or have it stolen."