Wireless technology on deck for CCI

John Oberlin

The world is shrinking. And so is Kent State’s College of Communication and Information — for the better.

With the new headquarters at Franklin Hall to be completed in 2007, the College of Communication and Information Commons at Verder Hall opening this fall and the cutting-edge technology to go along with it all, communication students will have a hard time just getting away from each other.

Predicting the media industry’s move towards convergence and cross-media news reporting, the college is planning to turn Franklin and Verder halls into wireless collaborative environments that will prepare students for careers in communication, said James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information.

The new technology will encourage students in different disciplines to work together and will change not only the way students gather and report news, but also how they learn, Gaudino said.

“The school is looking to provide high technology. Students will gain from using it,” said Jay Frye, College of Communication and Information LAN administrator.

Wireless Internet will be installed in Franklin Hall, the new home of the college, which is planned to be completed in Fall 2007, Frye said.

Verder Hall will be installed with wireless Internet on the first floor and a G5 Macintosh computer lab on the third floor, Gaudino said. This fall, just under 100 communication students will move into the new College of Communication and Information Commons.

“In theory,” Gaudino said, “students will be sitting in class with laptops, and they can be involved in an open blog, can download MP3s of the lecture and can access the class Web site.”

He said he wants students to use technology for education just as they would for their personal lives.

“As a general rule, education has lagged way behind the rest of students’ lives when it comes to technology,” Gaudino said. “There’s no reason not to use new technologies in the classroom.”

To show the usefulness of a wireless environment, Gaudino gave an example of a large lecture hall where the number of students and its sheer space inhibits learning: The students and the instructor have laptops from which students can post questions and comments onto a class blog that the teacher can refer to and instantly adjust lesson plans.

But with all the new technology comes some challenges, Gaudino said.

One challenge is making sure students buy the right computer. A news student who buys a PC for basic word processing and then decides to become a video student will have to buy a Macintosh to support Final Cut Pro, a required program for video.

One problem presently facing some communication students is the lack of online server space, Gaudino said. Students in schools like Visual Communication and Design have large files that can only be stored on individual computers, which severely limits students’ abilities to move to different workspaces.

Gaudino is interested in expanding students’ server space using a storage area network. Students would be able to save their whole academic career onto the SAN and access their projects from anywhere on campus, making referencing and collaborating easier.

Wireless Internet, blogs and SAN are not only getting attention from colleges — the media industry is also picking up on the technology.

“We want all the students to become computer literate (and thereby become) more valuable in the industry,” Gaudino said.

Randy Covington is the director of the University of South Carolina Newsplex, a cross-media newsroom that trains both students and professionals in traditional and non-traditional news formats.

Covington said the call for the change in the media industry is that news consumers are way ahead of news organizations, which are “focused on one delivery mechanism.” Consumers are now gathering news in multiple formats, including blogs and even text messages.

The change is partly based on survival and partly based on trying to cover news better, Covington said.

“I think there’s a misconception about convergence,” he said. “The need for convergence is based on truth.”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter John Oberlin at [email protected].

CORRECTION: In a June 29 article, “Wireless technology on deck for CCI,” the Stater incorrectly reported that the College of Communication and Information would be moving to Franklin Hall. It will not. Only the School of Journalism and Mass Communication will be moving to Franklin Hall. The error occurred in the reporting process.