Connectivity

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According to QED's report "Technology Purchasing Forecast 1999-2000," spending on computer hardware is predicted to drop 8%, while spending on networking equipment is predicted to rise slightly, from 21% to 23%. With the decline in spending on hardware and software, increased attention is being given to connectivity and networks, primarily to provide students with access to the Internet.

Networks are increasingly used to facilitate information access and to provide exchange and collaboration between individuals and among groups, and to bring together those with similar interests. Connectivity is being fostered on college campuses - with alumni, among faculty, between students, and between students and faculty. It is helping build relationships among the community, with businesses and the educational community. For example, some interesting projects include:

 

  • An increasing number of colleges and universities are entering the private sector market. Cornell University has established a for-profit spin-off. Columbia University is providing educational courses to market to the world. Hundreds of traditional colleges, including Stanford University, Georgetown and Florida State have added ".com" to their course offerings, with others ready to follow.

  • President Clinton announced that the FCC will push to offer telephone service to Native Americans for $1 a month. He also announced a $1 million AmeriCorps grant to technologically renovate tribal schools. IBM, the W.K. Kellog Foundation and the University of Michigan promised to give $1 million to start a virtual library for tribal colleges.

  • New York-based Computers for Youth, a non-profit group, is working to provide poor families in the region with the tools and knowledge to use the Internet. Students who sit through a three and a half hour session get to keep their computers - used Pentiums donated by city law firms, banks and brokerage houses - and get three months of free Internet and e-mail access.

  • The need for workers in technology jobs is creating more alliances between educational institutions and businesses. AT&T, for example, has formed the AT&T Education Alliance with five leading universities to address the nation's critical shortage of workers schooled in networking and information technology skills. Each member university receives a $250K grant to be used in developing curriculum that addresses networking and information technology skills and shall serve the mutual needs of industry and academia 

  • More universities are developing off-campus partnerships than ever before. Some business schools, including those at Carnegie Melon in Pittsburgh, Columbia University in New York, and La Salle University in Philadelphia, have connected with the computer science and engineering schools to train managers in business and information technology.

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has started a public-private partnership known as the Massachusetts Information Turnpike Initiative (MITI) to promote public information services in areas such as research, education and healthcare. Five University of Massachusetts campuses are linked through interactive videoconferencing facilities. The system is used for delivering course content to train nurses, and by Wocester Medical Center in broadcasting real-time open-heart surgery.

 

Connectivity is changing the way education is delivered. People are being connected regardless of time zone and cultural differences. The Internet is having a great impact on the way we live and work. However, we must not forget the ongoing soci'economic problems that the promise of connectivity cannot solve.

 

T.H.E. Journal wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate one of our Editorial Board Members. Dr. Edward Friedman, professor of technology management and director of the Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education at the Stephens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, recently received an honorary degree from Sofia University, Bulgaria. Since his work in Bulgaria in the early 1990s, Dr. Friedman has been an active advocate for the sharing of effective educational practice between the U.S. and Bulgaria. We are indeed proud of the work Dr. Friedman is doing in the U.S. and around the world.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.

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