Tech staff equips Chalmers, patio with wireless Internet access

Chalmers and the patio outside it will have wireless internet capability by mid-January.
“We are embarking on eventually making the whole campus wireless,” said Director of Computer Services Dave Ruben.

Using Chalmers as a “test case,” the school hopes to cover the campus in a seamless wireless network that will allow a student with a laptop to walk from Weiler to Taper without the connection dropping.

Crews from Anderson Electric have been working at night over the past two and a half weeks to wire Chalmers to allow access points to be installed.

There are 36 indoor access points, which are installed on ceilings and look like smoke detectors, in Chalmers. In addition, there are two to three outside, one of which can be easily seen above the cafeteria’s sandwich bar.

Seaver, Munger and the Mudd Library are likely next to be wired, though the timing depends on the success of the system now installed in Chalmers.

“Once we’re all wireless, we’ll roll out the tablets,” Ruben said. The school plans to equip all students with tablet PCs, more functional and feasible than laptops, within two to three years.

Providing wireless access across campus will make those tablets more powerful.
“There aren’t enough computers on campus for students to use,” said Jeff Snapp, mathematics teacher and Educational Technology Committee Chairman.

Overcrowding in computer labs has become a chronic problem during certain free periods.

Members of the Educational Technology committee hope that giving all students tablet PCs will not only solve the problem of congestion, but give students uniform access to the Internet, especially in a time when many assignments are technology-intensive.

“We want teachers to assign more tech-based assignments, and if there’s a problem with access, that’s not able to be done,” Snapp said.

Snapp is testing a tablet PC in teaching his classes, along with four other teachers at the Upper School and three at the Middle School.

However, there are already planned “interim programs,” Ruben said. 

Computer Services plans on equipping the History Department with a cart full of laptops for the second semester. 

The large number of history students that need access to computers currently use the library’s technology center, which is already doubling as a foreign language lab.

There is also a plan to have laptop carts for Munger, from which students will be able to check out laptops on a period-by-period basis.