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Moravian, tech firm connect with students

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Scott C. Hughes, chief information officer at Moravian College in Bethlehem, had a goal when he took over his position one year ago – to make Moravian College the fastest campus in the Lehigh Valley – at least with respect to online connectivity.

In the past, Hughes said, students often faced capacity issues on campus. They’d be walking from one class to another, pass through a connection hub that had heavy activity and be knocked off their mobile device.

“I wanted there to be seamless connectivity,” he said. “I wanted students and staff to be able to get online anywhere.”

The campus partnered with the Philadelphia office of Advance 2000, a national Internet technology consulting firm, to deploy technology developed by the Enterprise Division of Alcatel-Lucent that would provide advanced networking.

Moravian surveyed students last year and found many were unhappy with the performance of the institution’s existing network.

Hughes said there were particular areas that were a problem, such as the dining hall, where many students are trying to access mobile devices.

“The concept that education only occurs in a classroom is a fallacy,” Hughes said. “That education reaches out to many different spaces on campus.”

He said if students want to share notes over lunch – and those notes are stored on the cloud – he wants them to be able to reach them.

To get the kind of seamless connectivity he is seeking, Hughes said he and Advance 2000 combined two density models for laying out the network. They implemented strategies traditionally used in education that target the needs of students on the go with strategies employed by hospitals that assure accessibility of the institution’s infrastructure.

He said that means students or faculty walking across the north or south campus should see continuous electronic access.

Not that he expects anyone to notice.

“I hope the end user sees nothing,” Hughes said, noting that the user generally only thinks about the network when it stops working.

Hughes said the goal is for the network capacity to meet the needs of the college today and to help it be prepared to support future expansion.

The initiative, built on an all-Apple device strategy, will provide each student with Apple laptops and tablets, along with a new network that supports connectivity everywhere on campus for students.

Hughes said the initiative encourages a more collaborative, knowledge-sharing environment designed for tailored and interactive learning.

He said network access is important to today’s students and their dependence on connectivity.

He said he believes having a well-wired campus will be a strong tool in the college’s favor when it comes to recruitment, and will help toward student retention.

The college and Advance 2000 are about 70 percent completed with the project. Hughes said he expects to meet the Aug. 22 deadline in time for students’ return to campus for the fall semester.

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Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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