College IT girds for students

Techies shore up their networks, send out CDs, and cross their fingers.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
As students pack their bags and prepare to head off to colleges and universities toting their laptops and desktops, behind the scenes IT administrators are scrambling to get networks up and running, reports The Washington Post.

Colleges have variety of ways to indoctrinate new students into their tech directive - from sending out CDs of anti-virus software to sending out squads of tech staff to locate cables, explain passwords, watch for bugs. When the students arrive, the IT staff hopes it all goes according to plan.

"The Internet is like oxygen to the students," said Beth Ann Bergsmark, director of academic information technology services at Georgetown University. "It's their link to campus maps, course registration, reading assignments, e-mail from home, Facebook, [instant messaging]." "I don't do anything without it," said Kristina Gibbons, a first-year U-Va. student from Bermuda, looking at her laptop. "I don't know what it's like without one."

Ten years ago, computers were brought by students mostly for typing term papers. Now almost every student has a computer which is used for everything from online discussions, e-mailing parents, getting data from libraries, just to mention a few things.

The IT staff has to be ready for all kinds of problems—from wrong passwords to too-short cables. At University of Virginia this year marks fresh territory - the school is going completely wireless. The staff worries about worms and viruses.

"We worry about some black hat riding into town between the update and move-in day," Townsend said. "There's always that tension," said Tony Townsend, U-Va.'s chief technology analyst.
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