The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 21st

Students Benefit From Wireless Access

Wireless technology is now placing students, faculty and staff at the forefront of the technological revolution, providing high-speed Internet access in classrooms, labs and even coffee shops on Franklin Street.

"I am pleased and proud that we are taking this position nationally. I'm convinced what we're doing is at the vanguard of higher education," said Chancellor James Moeser. "I believe that Chapel Hill is really breaking ground."

About 40 locations on campus have been linked to wireless Cisco Systems Inc. access points -- small hubs that are plugged into the central campus network and stored in closets or windows -- that provide Internet connections to laptops within a given radius.

The upgrades, which began last fall, synchronize well with the first year of the Carolina Computing Initiative, which requires freshmen to own laptops.

This year's freshman class -- 3,400 in total -- is the first class to test an ambitious plan to provide all students with access to advanced technology and promote a broader educational experience in and out of the classroom. "The whole CCI is really not about technology, but about transforming the way students learn," Moeser said.

Wireless access even extends to Franklin Street. Emanating from the second floor of Battle Hall, radio signals allow students to take advantage of the new technology from the cool shade of McCorkle Place, the quiet comfort of Caffe Trio or the popular heights of Hector's.

Greenlaw Hall is one location where students are connecting to the Web sans wires. In spring 1999, the Department of English piloted a handful of "English Composition" classes using the wireless technology that had recently been incorporated in several Greenlaw classrooms.

Assistant Professor of English Todd Taylor said updating the technology in Greenlaw took just two days and $15,000 -- a marked contrast to the $150,000 and a semester of work needed to hardwire some classrooms with desktop Internet connections in 1998.

Now 11 sections of "English Composition" are being taught in Greenlaw, bringing wireless technology to the fingertips of 220 students, Taylor said. "Students have repeatedly told me, 'This is what I hoped college would be like,'" he said. "We think this is the future of education, and I'm very happy this day has arrived."

Students entering these classes are given a wireless Internet card to be returned at the end of class.

Wireless technology cards are also available to students at Student Stores for just under $150 and also for check-out at Davis Library.

But Marian Moore, vice chancellor for information technology, said technology is always evolving and that new cards with more memory will soon be available for less money.

Freshman Catherine Davis, whose "English Composition" class has been using the wireless technology since the semester's start, said she would consider buying a card for her own use if the price goes down and more access hubs are installed throughout campus.

"Having computer skills is such a big deal now," Davis said. "I think we'll definitely have an advantage over people who don't have this experience."

The University Editor can be reached at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel's 2023 Black History Month Edition

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive