No Limit on Wireless Education
Wireless Network and Laptop Initiative Give NMU Students a Superior EdgeBy Dwayne Barnes, August 2007
Since fall 2000, Northern Michigan University (NMU) has been dedicated to giving its campus community a technological edge with an innovative student laptop program and easy access to NMU's campus network. The impressive results have produced a better connected student population and a national reputation as one of the "most unwired" universities in America because of its wireless network.
In 2000, NMU began implementing the Teaching, Learning, and Communication (TLC) Laptop initiative by distributing laptop computers to full-time undergraduate and graduate students. As a part of their tuition, students were issued laptops equipped with a standard set of applications and the ability to connect to the university's network.
During the first week of class NMU holds its annual Distribution Week at the Superior Dome in Marquette where students are able to pick up their notebooks. All notebooks are leased on a two-year basis, so at the beginning of the fall semester, students with a two-year-old machine can also exchange their notebooks for a new one.
Since the inception of the TLC initiative, NMU has distributed thousands of computers. The number of dispersed computers in 2005, during Distribution Week was 4,700 computers, and in 2006, dispersed computers increased to 6,300.
The goal of the comprehensive, cross-curriculum program is to give NMU students an educational edge and keep them at the forefront of computer technology.
Unwired in the Upper PeninsulaAs a part of the initiative, the University also began implementing wireless technology across its campus and began encouraging students' greater use of network resources. In 2002, NMU installed a wireless network in the Olsen Library building, allowing students to conduct research from anywhere in the library with their laptops.
In 2004, the wireless network was expanded beyond the campus borders to include portions of Marquette County. The Northern Michigan Connected Learning Community Off-campus wireless network (NMUCLC) provided network coverage to 7,000 off-campus students, such as aviation maintenance students at the Sawyer International Airport and Marquette Area Public Schools.
As a result, Northern has been cited nationally as one of the nations "most wired universities" and recognized as a "laureate" award recipient in Computer World's Honors Program, a distinction selected by the CEO's of the world's leading technology companies.
In 2005 and 2006, NMU was named to the U.S. News and World Report's list for "The Most Unwired College Campuses". Northern was one of three Michigan schools to earn a spot on the list in 2006, landing in the number 18 slot.
Nearly all of the NMU programs take advantage of the wireless network and TLC laptop Initiative to give their students a better learning experience.
The School of Art and DesignThe School of Art and Design has been making a name for its self as one of the most technologically advanced Schools in the campus community.
To accommodate the student's studio and course needs the Art and Design majors are issued Apple MacBooks as apart of the Teaching, learning and Communication (TLC) Initiative.
In 2004, The School of Art and Design opened a new 10-million dollar facility with over 110,000 square feet of studios, lecture hall, critique and screening rooms. New lecture and screening rooms feature two-way interactive capabilities.
The Studio contains four labs: One for notebook use, the other three are equipped with Powermac G5 Dual Processor Towers, 23" Flat Screen Displays, Drawing Tablets, Scanners, Microphones, Digital Video Decks, and Midi Keyboards. The labs contain an array of innovative software including Final Cut Pro, Sondtrack Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Flash, Cinema 4D, and many others.
With the ultra-modern facilities and software, Art and Design students are taking the principles learned in class to the world by competing in an online film festival. Last November, students from Digital Cinema and Electronic Imaging were apart of a 250 team competition sponsored by Apple. Students gained real world experience by writing, shooting and editing a short film in one day. The submissions were 3 minutes in length and judged on the basis of completion of the film, editing, effects, and fulfillment of several assigned film elements. After the short films were submitted online, they were then made available online during the Apple Insomnia Film Festival.
The experience of the film competition is among the many benefits that NMU's students have reaped from the university's investment in the TLC program and other technologies. By breaking the boundaries of education and research with its wireless network NMU is giving its students a superior edge.
More on NMUNorthern Michigan University is located in Michigan's unique Upper Peninsula along the southern shore of Lake Superior offering 180 degree programs to nearly 9,400 undergraduate and graduate students.
The 350-acre NMU campus is known for its safe, clean, friendly and natural environment. It features 52 facilities, including the Seaborg Science Complex, a state-of-the-art venue with more than two dozen laboratories, and the renovated Thomas Fine Arts and Art and Design buildings.
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