Wi-fi keeps students connected

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Lot 16, east of Moody on March 16. Geoffrey Hovatter

Students without reliable internet access at their residence can use wi-fi access hotspots in the parking lots of Alamo Colleges.

By Richard Stone

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Being present in one of the parking lots does not violate the COVID-19 shut-down order.

Wi-fi is the single most heavily used technology at Alamo Colleges, Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor for planning and technology, said March 31.

The average student brings 2.2 devices with internet connectivity to one of the five colleges, Cleary said.

The first outdoor wi-fi access points on the five district campuses were installed in 2010.

The access points collect the number of devices connecting to them and send that information to the district information technology department, which uses it to decide where the department should be installing new access points.

The highest traffic areas have priority for installing new access points.

Some days have an average of 22,000 people using the access points across the district.

“Students want to be connected. We want connectivity to follow students,” Cleary said.

Cleary added that he surveyed students regarding internet access at home. Ninety percent of respondents said they have high-speed internet access at home.

Cleary said he wanted to make sure that the 10% without high-speed access would know about the possibility of using the access points for remote learning while sitting in their car in one of the parking lots.

“Technology should come to students,” Cleary added.

Sixty-seven thousand credit students are learning remotely, and 5,000 faculty and staff are working remotely.

“We have made some good previous investments, and those investments are paying off today. The students and faculty are making it work,” Cleary said.

It is important to use the available technology to mitigate COVID-19’s disruption to working and learning across the district.

“High-tech and high-touch is the ideal combination,” Cleary said.

High-touch is students, professors and advisers using virtual services like Canvas, email, texting and Zoom video chat to stay connected with each other.

Northeast Lakeview College has wi-fi access in Lot 3 east of the Wellness Center and in Lot 7 north of the career technology building.

Northwest Vista College has wi-fi access in Lot 2 west of Mountain Laurel Hall.

Palo Alto College has wi-fi access in Lot 11 east of the veterinary technology building.

St. Philip’s College has wi-fi access in Lot 12 north of Davis Science Building and Lot 13 north of the center for learning resources on the MLK campus.

San Antonio College has wi-fi access in Lot 16 east of Moody Learning Center.

“Students are very smart, and they know where their communities have wi-fi resources. I’m proud of the students, faculty and staff,” Cleary said.

For more information, email Cleary at tcleary1@alamo.edu.

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