Purdue hopes to explore new ways to use 4G in the classroom

Purdue University will join the 38 major metropolitan areas and more than 60 commercial airports that Verizon plans to cover in the first large-scale 4G Long Term Evolution Network, which should result in many new opportunities to use smart phones and other mobile devices as learning tools, observers say.

“The reason that we chose Purdue University is because they are already using wireless technology in very innovative ways,” said Verizon representative Michelle Gilbert. “We thought they would be a great partner to really embrace this kind of technology and help move it forward,” Gilbert said.

“Generally in these kinds of technologies where the vendor is looking at subscribers per cubit, we’re about a third tier or fourth tier market,” said Scott Ksander, Purdue’s executive director of networks and security. “Other than the Indianapolis Airport we’re the only other spot in Indiana [that will be covered.] That’s a pretty big acknowledgment by Verizon that we might have something to offer and we’re really excited about that,” said Ksander.

The Verizon 4G network technology will increase network speed by leaps and bounds, enabling more interactivity and internet usage in daily university curriculum.

“You could equate the speed of 4G to taking a 14-hour flight to Tokyo and reducing it to 80 minutes. That’s the difference in speed,” said Gilbert.

Download and upload times for large files are reduced by tenfold. Gilbert said latency is greatly reduced, which means people watching videos, on video conferences, or playing games will not have to wait while the video element buffers.

But Ksander wants to make sure that the focus isn’t only on the new equipment, but on how it can improve students’ learning experiences.

“Unfortunately I think sometimes this becomes a discussion about technology,” said Ksander. “If the message is that it’s just faster internet, while that’s interesting to technology people, that’s not the point. [It should be] how do I make my experience at Purdue more rewarding because I have a bigger experience as a result of this technology,” Ksander said.

“Overall across West Lafayette there’s a lot of excitement. People are asking a lot of questions. I think people affiliated with Purdue are extremely proud that the most innovative wireless technology has come to their campus,” Gilbert said.


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