If you’ve been on campus at all in the past few weeks, chances are that your Internet has stopped working at least once. You’ve also probably rushed to Founders to print something out before class only to find yourself waiting a good 10 minutes for Microsoft Word to load. From a lack of bandwidth to a lack of wireless connectivity, Knox certainly has some strides to make in regards to technology. The appointment of Steve Hall as chief information officer is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to make sure Knox is moving forward at something resembling the same speed as technological innovation.
From how we get our course readings to how we turn in assignments, technology plays an ever-more-vital role in our education. But the technology we have at our disposal at Knox is far from adequate. With Knox-Wireless constantly cutting in and out, doing Internet research anywhere besides a campus computer lab has become extremely difficult. Trying to buy textbooks becomes a battle between wanting to pay for them and not wanting to charge your credit card over and over because you had to click “submit” five times before anything happened. Don’t even think about trying to watch a video. With more smartphones and tablets utilizing the Internet than ever before, a powerful wireless network becomes even more important. But instead of improving in this regard, Knox’s wireless Internet has become progressively more nightmarish to use.
Our technological woes don’t stop with the wireless network. Instead of speeding up access to computers in Founders, the Fast Lane has been removed and login screens have been implemented on the eMacs, meaning there is no way around the long wait to log in to a Founders machine. The TKS Editorial Board found that it takes approximately 12 minutes to print out a one-page assignment. Instead of improving usability, constant tinkering with the Knox website has not made the navigation any more straightforward. Instead of directing resources towards the 1,400 students who need them, over half of campus bandwidth is given to far fewer faculty and staff members.
It would appear that Knox has acknowledged its technological problems with the creation of the chief information officer position, but it sure has taken a long time for us to get here. And now, with more emphasis being placed on technology at the administrative level, we wonder: will things actually get better? If students do not become more directly involved in addressing problems with technology at Knox, the answer will likely be no.
True, the Student Senate Tech Committee exists to convey student needs and wants to technology staff. But the work of this committee in the past has been disappointing. Last year, major issues discussed included getting digital signage and Linux machines. Technology necessary to our general operations should be prioritized over aesthetic touches and operating system preferences. And while some tech problems have only cropped up this year, issues with bandwidth and wireless connectivity are not new. Serious attempts to address them, however, would be. We cannot speak to the efforts of this year’s Tech Committee, as it was just formed, but we would hope it would focus on solidifying our infrastructure before it starts considering bells and whistles.
We also hope that, as Steve Hall moves forward in his new position, he will reach out to students and listen to their concerns. The pace of technological change is exhausting, and we cannot expect to always run alongside it. But we should expect — and demand — better investment in the basics. Hall said in last week’s TKS that he wants to “be accessible.” Let’s take advantage of that, rather than simply grumbling to our friends in the Gizmo when the Internet goes down once again.