UAS gets students online without wires

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Monica Kane can sit in her dorm room at the University of Alaska Southeast, fire up her laptop and do online assignments without plugging into the school's computer network.

UAS has loaned Kane and other students an adapter that lets them pick up the computer network by radio signals.

''I can just pick up the computer and go,'' said Kane, a sophomore from Seattle.

The campus isn't fully accessible for wireless users yet, but it will be soon, said Michael Ciri, who manages computer services.

''My vision is when somebody gets on campus, they're on the network,'' Ciri said. ''It's part of the environment.''

Building by building, piecing together funds from various programs, the school is putting in the antenna boxes at about $1,000 each. Computer users receive the radio signals by attaching an adapter that costs between $120 and $160 to their laptop or desk computer.

Students snapped up the first 50 adapters, which were loaned to them free for a semester. The school also has a moveable cart of 20 laptops with wireless capacity.

Beth Weigel, who teaches a section of a first-year humanities course, rolled the cart into her class on the first day of class to show students how to use the course's home page and e-mail.

Like many UAS classes, the humanities class has posted a detailed course outline, grading criteria and guidelines for assignments. Students are required to respond to 10 assignments posted online as part of a discussion group.

The wireless capacity lets students tie into the Internet for a class presentation, and some classes are simulcast on cable television and the Internet.

''Let's say you were sick. You could actually tune in from your dorm room and pick up the broadcast,'' Ciri said.

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