Vision 2020 technology goals ahead of schedule


Sophomore Illustration major Avery Muether watches music videos on YouTube in her dorm room Tuesday afternoon. A goal of President Peter’s Vision 2020 plan is for NIU to improve wireless internet on campus.

By Josh Green

The improvement of Wi-Fi technology, cloud services and other wireless amenities – goals for Vision 2020 – are ahead of schedule in terms of completion.

The program has met certain goals, like the opening of Grant North Tower C, which has full Wi-Fi coverage. The technological improvements are meant to meet the goal of lowering the cost of wireless access, according to minutes from a Nov. 2011 Computing Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) meeting.

“It’s one of the Vision 2020 projects that’s actually ahead of schedule,” said Paul Palian, Director of Media & Public Relations.

NIU President John Peters estimated the budget of both the wireless infrastructure and the cloud services to be about $4 million during a University Council meeting, according to a Feb. 1 Northern Star article.

According to the current Vision 2020 site, the implementation of Cloud and improvement of Wi-Fi are ahead of schedule and on pace to be completed by 2015.

“The initial funding for Wi-Fi in all student spaces is around $800,000,” said Wally Czerniak, associate vice president for information technology services.

Some students said the upgrade to on-campus technology could be helpful, and they wouldn’t mind paying more for it.

“Let’s be honest: NIU needs to upgrade their network infrastructure, and by making the entire campus wireless, it would be a huge step forward,” said Ryan Chodora, sophomore journalism major. “I would gladly pay the extra cost of tuition as long as it is within reason.”

The wireless access was deemed “critical to distance learning objectives,” according to minutes from a 2011 CFAC meeting. The CFAC held that improvements in software and wireless technology would also be vital to students taking online courses.

“Since NIU is considered a suitcase campus, I think a plethora of students would gladly embrace their ability to access their files from the NIU network into their homes,” Chodora said.

Another part of the movement towards better Wi-Fi access is to encourage the use of electronically submitting assignments to instructors in order to use less paper through cutting back on the need to print assignments, notes, or lecture slides.

“These improved communications enable alternative measures of delivery,” Palian said. “NIU President John G. Peters actually indicated to the Board of Trustees that he would like their documents to be transferred electronically to administrators.”

Palian also listed other benefits of NIU’s shift towards being technologically savvy, pointing toward the newly re-opened Cole Hall as a sign of things to come.

“It’s designed to be laptop- and iPad-friendly,” Palian said. “By looking at ebooks, wireless and cloud services, and other advantages of technology, the goal is to make the delivery of education more acceptable for today’s world.”