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BHSU making changes to accommodate increased laptop usage

Black Hills State University is making changes to accommodate the greatly increased use of laptop computers by students. Cooper Stanforth, business administration major from Platte, and
Karissa Norte, math major from Aurora, Colo., are among the majority of students that bring their laptops to campus.

Black Hills State University is making changes to accommodate the greatly increased use of laptop computers by students. A survey conducted as students moved into residence halls this fall revealed that nearly 90 percent of students brought a computer with them. That number is consistent with a national and regional trend in recent years.

“More and more students are bringing computers to campus,” says Fred Nelson, manager of Network and Computer Services. “This year almost 90 percent of the residence hall students brought computers with them and most of those students have laptop computers.”

The survey conducted by BHSU residence hall personnel confirmed that the national trend holds true at BHSU and provided information about BHSU students’ computer equipment that will guide BHSU’s plans for technology utilization and support.

Almost exclusively, students are choosing laptop computers. The survey indicated that, of those students who brought computers with them, 98 percent have laptop computers. Students continue to choose PCs over Mac computers at a rate of 94 percent vs. six percent.

To meet the increased technology needs of students and faculty, BHSU is making a number of upgrades in wireless access and providing more technical support for students and faculty with funds available through increased student technology fees that went into effect this semester.

According to Dr. Warren Wilson, chief information officer at BHSU, the University is now expanding the wireless coverage in academic buildings. All network switches on campus have been upgraded to handle the additional load by increasing the number of wireless access points, related security and monitoring needs.

“In the past, there was limited wireless coverage in the academic buildings and the library. Access was very dependent upon how many other users were logged on and where in a particular building you were trying to login,” Wilson says. “To improve this situation, a wireless site survey was done in all buildings on campus so that the appropriate number and distribution of access points could be procured. The first academic building to receive these new access points will be Jonas, this fall. The plan is to bring Meier Hall, Woodburn Hall and the Young Center online with the new wireless access points this spring.”

All the BHSU residence halls currently have wireless coverage. Wireless capability is also being added to the Student Union. Currently the University Bookstore, first and second floor of the Student Union, and the Sky Walk are all wireless. Upgrades are underway in the residence halls and two of the eight apartment buildings.

The increased technology fee is also being used to fund a staff position in Instructional Design. Devrim Ozdemir joined the BHSU staff this fall and is working with faculty to facilitate newer technology, videos, and software usage into the curriculum. There are also Student Technology Fellows, BHSU students with advanced technical knowledge, assisting with this work.

This semester BHSU offers more than 300 courses which are utilizing the learning management software known as Desire2Learn (D2L) for all or some portion of the course. There are more than 3,000 students enrolled in these courses; many of these students are enrolled in more than one course.

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