- To free up bandwidth for internet traffic related to lectures and other academic needs, Purdue University is restricting access to online streaming websites such as Netflix, Hulu and iTunes during class time in its four largest lecture halls.
- The university found in a 2016 study that 4% of internet use in its Lilly Hall of Life Sciences was to academic sites while 34% went to sites such as Netflix and Hulu, Inside Higher Ed reported. An additional 64% went to sites with mixed applications, such as Amazon and Google. The lecture halls in which the restrictions are being piloted can hold hundreds of students who often come to class with multiple devices.
- Since the pilot launched at the start of the fall semester, the wireless system has experienced much less traffic, administrators say, leaving more bandwidth for academic purposes. Faculty members can access the banned sites for teaching purposes.
Higher education's IT infrastructure needs are expanding as classrooms demand a larger share of campus internet capabilities.
For example, virtual reality (VR) — a tool some colleges are already using to extend learning online and incorporate real-life training — is placing significant demand on campus internet infrastructure. A recent survey from the nonprofit Internet2 found that 18% of colleges are using virtual reality for learning while 28% say they are in the process of getting the related infrastructure in place.
However, campus IT leaders are concerned about whether their institutions are equipped with sufficient wireless network capacity to support VR networks, and whether their computers have enough hard drive space to satisfy the requirements for creating a VR-supported classroom, the survey found.
A common issue among IT leaders is managing the threat to data security as more devices connect to campus wireless networks and demand for wireless connectivity increases. In a fall 2016 survey of campus CIOs and senior IT officials, 81% said improving network and data security is one of their top five priorities in the next two to three years.
Cloud storage solutions offer colleges the flexibility to adapt data storage needs as digital learning and administrative capabilities expand, EdTech reported. The cloud is seen as a viable new frontier because it does not require major investment in hardware, however, its security needs are no less significant. Research from the Center for Digital Education found that one-third of higher ed IT leaders plan to expand their cloud infrastructure while a slightly larger share said they'd be adding bandwidth.