Tech Center Seeking Solution for Poor WiFi

BY JONATHAN LEVSKY // OCT. 5, 2016 //

We’ve all been there; sitting in your room, cramming for tomorrow’s exam or doing homework due the next day, when all of a sudden the internet disconnects, halting all your work.

For Curry students, the lack of consistent WiFi is a problem all too familiar.

The Curry College Tech Department has heard numerous complaints and are beginning to take action. Joe Bruno, the interim chief information officer of the Tech Department, comments, “We recognize that the WiFi services as they currently exist on campus require improvement.”

Bruno explains that there are currently 420 access points deployed around the campus, and due to a wide variety of reasons such as placement, interference, and building construction, the WiFi is not meeting the expectations of the students.

He continues, “Since the beginning of the semester, we have responded to a number of specific issues we’ve received from students, and we’ve been achieving positive results.”

Specifically, the Tech Center has addressed the issue whereby iPhones were unable to connect to the network as well as rewire several access points in the Residence Halls. They have also been working alongside the vendor who hosts the my.curry.edu portal to resolve connectivity issues.

Additionally, the Tech Center has contracted with an outside firm this past August to conduct wireless surveys on different parts of campus.

“We have recently received the survey findings, and we are now working with our wireless provider to create optimal findings,” says Bruno. “We will take what we learn and create a multi-year, rolling plan that will address the needs of the entire campus.”

And although these issues haven’t gone unnoticed, now five weeks into the school year without any sign of resolving the problem, students are still feeling frustrated by the lack of internet connection.

no-wifi
The Tech Center continues to look for a solution to the severe lack of WiFi connection on campus. // IMAGE CREDIT pixabay.com //

Max Bramble, a sophomore IT major, thinks “[The WiFi] could be better. I sometimes can’t watch a YouTube video for a class or sometimes it takes forever to load Blackboard.”

Bramble’s solution to this problem would be to have separate WiFi’s for different parts of the campus.

Chandler Carlson, a junior Business major, voiced his concerns saying, “Curry’s WiFi, to me, is not very reliable. There will be times that I’ll be on my laptop or a school computer and the network either won’t load or stay connected. Being a busy student like me, I need to make sure I get my work done, and with the internet not being reliable, it makes it harder.”

Brandy Julius, a sophomore Accounting major stated that, “As a student government member, I am aware of how slow the WiFi can be on campus. I feel that other colleges don’t run into as many problems as we do and for that reason we should be funding more money into fixing the issues Curry is facing.”

And it’s not just students’ inability to get homework done. Many students watch TV and movies through streaming providers like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, and the near-constant internet problems are frustrating.

“I don’t have much time to watch Netflix, but when I do, I’m not able to watch my shows because the WiFi is too slow,” said Abby Pieger, a senior Community Health and Wellness major.

“It has been a problem that has not only affected my free time but has also affected my studies as well,” she continues. “The portal never seems to work when I need it most.”

And with teachers assigning homework on online databases, it’s crucial for the WiFi to be as smooth as possible so that students can complete their assignments on time.

Every now and then students on campus will receive a message stating that the WiFi is down and being repaired, and will not be accessible until further notice. However, it doesn’t take long for the problems to appear once again.

The Tech Department has noticed the issues and are now responding to the issues as quickly as possible. Students can only hope a solution will be found soon, especially with midterms quickly approaching.

Levin Library Introduces New Tech Lab

BY COLE MCNANNA // MARCH 10, 2016 //

Within the confines of the Levin Library, tucked away in the corner of the Quiet Study Lounge on the basement floor of the building, lies the Learning Lab.

Curry College’s newest advancement in learning aids holds four computers stocked with assistive technology as well as a printer and scanner to help students with learning disabilities. On top of that, there are headphones set aside for students to block out noise and better focus on any task at hand.

The assistive technologies loaded on these computers include Dragon Naturally Speaking Speech Recognition Software, which allows users to speak their words as opposed to typing. On the other end, there is software called Kurzweil 3000, which speaks texts to its users.

There are also two systems that magnify the reading text, as well as software that allows users to create a visual representation or diagram of their thoughts, called Inspiration.

All of these resources are commonly used by members of the Program for Advancing Learning (PAL) and students who are registered in the Office of Disability Services (ODS) with Christopher “Chip” Kennedy. However, all Curry students now have access to these assets through the new Learning Lab.

Curry College Learning Lab located in the basement of the Levin Library // Photo By Cole McNanna
Curry College Learning Lab located in the basement of the Levin Library // Photo By Cole McNanna

“The purpose of this is so that assistive technology is available for all students,” said Kennedy. “Obviously it’s meant for students with a disability…but it’s really meant for any student who wants to utilize that.”

This center of learning is fairly new—it opened the beginning of this semester—but it has been a project in the waiting for almost five years.

“This has been something that I’ve been pushing for for about four and a half years now,” said Kennedy. “I’ve been pushing for there to be a computer lab on this campus with assistive technology.”

A factor that held back their advancement was the old organization of the library, which had taken use of the room that currently hosts the Learning Lab.

Once the rooms were available, there was a process to determine the best use for the newly vacant rooms. Ed Tallent, the Dean of Faculty and former director of the Levin Library, teamed up with Kennedy to create the foundation for the Learning Lab and noted that there was some competition for the new space.

“There were multiple possibilities, as there were multiple space needs both in the library and in the college,” said Tallent. “Some of the possibilities were more using the space for more traditional library space needs, such as study spaces.”

Tallent went on to deliver a positive verdict, however, saying, “The happy ending is that the library space ended up being used for a college-wide need. That is not always the result of space decision-making processes.”

Once all the pieces of the puzzle finally came together, the prospect of recruiting students took center stage as the primary factor of its nonuse. With it being such a new resource, many students did not (and still do not) know that it exists.

Kennedy and his staff in turn created informational brochures outlaying the premises and technologies available to students. They placed these brochures in the PAL and Admissions buildings to promote to current and prospective students. They also sent out an email to faculty and staff at the beginning of the semester, and advertise on the biweekly email detailing the events coming up on campus.

Disability Services // Photo Courtesy of Curry College
Disability Services // Photo Courtesy of Curry College

Kennedy knows that these are simply growing pains. “It is taking some time, and obviously not everyone is going to use it immediately,” he said. “It’s been a gradual process and as the semester goes on, there’s going to be more students who will be utilizing it.”

Another factor that may hold them back is their location in the Library. However, Kennedy notes that it is crucial to its success.

“I think it’s a great location,” Kennedy said. “It’s good because it’s kind of set back and gives students their privacy, especially in utilizing the different assistive technology. By having that privacy, it’s actually most ideal.”

They have attempted to do something similar to this in past years when they had assistive technologies on two computers on the main floor of the library. “It got no use because it was right in the heart of the computers and the chaos,” Kennedy said. “It didn’t give students any privacy.”

These assistive technology softwares are not new to campus, however those computers are in the PAL building, which is only open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Moving to the library meant having a Learning Lab that is open for over a hundred hours during the week, including weekends.

Kennedy noted that he is excited to do more promotion, with not only current students but also prospective students coming to campus for Accepted Students Day in April.

Teching Care of Your Health

BY KILEY FARRELL // MARCH 29, 2015 //

When most people think of unhealthy living, they picture fast food and sitting around on a coach. But few think about the negative impact technology has on our health.

For example, when I step out the door to walk to class, I automatically put my headphones in and crank up the volume to block out background noises. But according to research out of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, the ear buds on headphones have the ability, over time, to cause hearing loss or ringing in the ears when volume is too high.

PHOTO BY PHILIPPE PUT, Creative Commons
PHOTO BY PHILIPPE PUT, Creative Commons

There’s also something now called “computer vision syndrome,” which leads to burning and irritation of the eyes from staring at a computer screen for long periods of time. We become so interested and focused on what we’re reading, typing or even looking at we often forget to blink! That leads to dry eyes, which cause irritation.

Many eye care specialists say that spending hours on a computer screen can take a negative toll on one’s vision, especially in the long run. For example, it can result in straining the muscles in your eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and eye fatigue.

However, there are ways you can prevent all of this from happening. An obvious but helpful solution would be wearing prescription glasses during computer use, adjusting your computer’s contrast so the lighting isn’t so bright, and making sure to take breaks from your computer or any screen you’re staring at. Try two to three minutes for each half-hour on a screen, and 10- to 15-minute breaks for every hour on a screen.

Today’s college students have only known a world with computers and digital devices. How we continue to use these tools, and the technologies of tomorrow, can influence our health just as profoundly as all those late-night pizza orders.

Library Invests in Tech, Partly in Search of Space

BY KENNETH SCOTT // NOV. 17, 2014 //

Curry College’s library has undergone some relatively big changes within its relatively small confines. From iPad rentals to color printing, technology is playing a larger role in the campus’s educational support services.

The Levin Library has added additional printers to the first and second floor, including a color printer/scanner/copier that sits next to the information desk at the main entrance. Library Director Ed Tallent said the investment shows “we are listening to and accommodating the needs of students.”

Specifically, students studying art, graphic design and science often need more than just black and white printing capabilities, Tallent said. And instead of making photocopies from a book, students can now scan and email the pages to themselves, cutting down on paper waste and costs.

The library has also expanded its online research databases. One feature allows the purchase of e-books based on student interest. If two or three students research an e-book via the library’s database, Tallent said, the library will automatically purchase the e-book.

“The library’s new databases and data systems are directly linked to Curry’s course curriculum,” he added. “The technological advances we have made will help us move our print library online.”

Moving away from print resources is a priority at Curry, as physical space is something the library obviously lacks. With more learning resources digitized, the newly freed up space could be used for student or faculty meetings, academic events, and student study groups, Tallent said. It should also make it easier for students to find the resources they seek.

Said freshman psychology major Samantha Badillo, who visits the library every day, “finding books is really hard.” Other students complained about a lack of available computers.

To that end, the library does offer students—and faculty—free rentals of iPads; Curry owns 10 of them. However, Tallent said students are using the iPad’s mostly for “recreational purposes, as opposed to the educational purposes for which they were purchased.”

Nonetheless, it’s a move in the right direction. “The technological advancements are great,” said Tallent, “but there are still changes that need to be made in terms of physical space.”

Going the Distance…in a Relationship

BY COLE MCNANNA // SEPT. 29, 2014 //

Relationships can be tough. They need time and effort to work.

Long-distance relationships are even tougher, because the time required isn’t always easy to come by.

Last year, my girlfriend and I had the luxury of living two minutes away from each other in Milford, Mass. We drove to our high school together most every day, and we could see one another just about anytime we wanted.

But because Molly, my girlfriend, is a grade below me, she’s still in Milford. I’m a freshman here at Curry College, which is about 40 minutes away from home. It isn’t as if we’re on other ends of the world, but it is a significant change from what we’re used to.

PHOTO BY JHAYMESISVIPHOTOGRAPHY // https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
PHOTO BY JHAYMESISVIPHOTOGRAPHY // https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

As with all relationships, there have been big fights and little fights. We have been able to work through them, but it’s a little different connecting with your significant other when away at college. At home we could go for a drive and talk about things. Now, most of our time talking is done over the phone.

If you want to keep your long-distance relationship alive and well, you need to find a communication strategy that works for you. Take full advantage of technology, and make a point to communicate on a daily basis, says the online dating service eHarmony. Use email, text, video chat, Snapchat, phones…whatever. If you want to stay connected, you need to stay connected.

Ultimately, however, distance never dooms a long-distance relationship. Breakups are often the result of things people do when away from their girlfriend or boyfriend, particularly when feeling lonely. According to Cosmo magazine, there are ways to figure out if your distance partner is cheating, such as dramatic changes in tone when talking over the phone.

So remember: If you want your long-distance relationship to work, you need to figure out ways to close that distance.