NIU Wi-Fi could expand to city


Graduate accounting student Kang Gao (left) and Nino Mebuke, graduate sports psychology student, work on computer workstations Monday night on the second floor of Founders Memorial Library. The university has plans to expand its Wi-Fi, potentially providing it to portions of downtown DeKalb.

By Chris Raufeisen

The university’s wireless network may expand down Lincoln Highway to downtown DeKalb by fall 2015, said Chief Information Officer Brett Coryell.


By the end of the semester, the Division of Information Technology will have reached a decision with the university about installing an additional 1,500 wireless access points that will project wireless Internet in campus areas such as Huskie Stadium and a majority of classrooms and offices around campus that are in dead zones.

Coryell said he is undergoing a separate project that proposes adding Wi-Fi service throughout nearby portions of Lincoln Highway, giving students free wireless Internet into downtown DeKalb. Information Technology and DeKalb are negotiating an installation process for the wireless network with a decision to be made by the end of 2014, with a goal to launch service by fall 2015.

Coryell said he and his staff are also pushing for student technology spending to be focused on the renovation of computer labs.

“The idea is to improve the environment for computing and to use that money toward things students care about,” Coryell said.

Computer spaces

Renovations of computer labs are underway at a pace of about one to two a semester, with the next project starting at Wirtz Hall before the end of the semester.

These upgrades are paid for by the student technology fee, which is $125 per student for a semester of six credit hours or less and $250 for seven credit hours or more. The renovations will be started by the end of this semester continuing until every computer lab has been upgraded.

Coryell said the upgrades will revolve around moving away from desktop computer labs and focusing on a comfortable atmosphere for students to bring a personal device.

Coryell and a committee comprised of faculty from all university departments are searching for a way to reduce student inequities by traveling to universities for ideas on how to improve NIU. Coryell said he has expressed interest in universities like Southern Illinois University and Arkansas State University where incoming freshmen are greeted with devices such as iPads and Dell laptops loaned by the universities.

Not only will a program like this give students a device to use at their disposal, but it could also lead to things like the widespread use of electronic textbooks, simpler access to class materials and more, Coryell said.

“The idea is that all the students are on the same page. Of course, professors would unanimously have to opt into this digital transition for this to come into effect and discussions are in progress,” Coryell said.

Technology store

Information Technology is spearheading a possible addition of a technology store on campus. The nearest store selling technological devices and components is Best Buy, 2074 Sycamore Road, roughly 3 miles from campus.

The addition of the technology store would provide students access to technological commodities, needed repairs and employment. Coryell said the technology store at Arkansas State University creates employment opportunities for digitally savvy students, with more than 30 student employees selecting their own inventory while gaining business and marketing experience.

Coryell said a search is underway for possible locations for the store, and the goal is to pick a space which can be operating by fall 2015.

If a store were to be built, the next undertaking would be the complementary construction of an “exploratory space” where students and shoppers could browse the latest gadgets.

A space like this would be aimed at promoting the image of the university, Coryell said, in hopes of winning over the minds of prospective students visiting and to further integrate NIU into the digital age.


Blackboard is working on a new MyEdu module where every course a student chooses will be organized by time and day so schedule options are offered.

Upperclassmen will have the option of using a digital resume which will provide the new service of taking the resume and launching it into a system which will be integrated with a search engine used by workplaces to find employees.

“In essence it is like, comparing what a student has to offer with what the employer is looking for,” Coryell said.

The module seeks the jobs that best fit the qualifications of the student. Coryell said the resource could be available for students as soon as fall 2015.