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Juniata College: On the Technological Cutting Edge

(Posted September 7, 2000)

Juniata College students are settling in behind new computers in technologically enhanced classrooms and laboratories thanks to a major technological upgrade that took place this summer. And Juniata won?t stop there. The college will continue to work diligently to bring the latest technological offerings to students. Juniata strives to be a recognized leader in integrating technology into education.

The college?s efforts were recognized recently when Juniata was ranked the 59th Most Wired College in America by the Yahoo! Internet Life 2000 survey. According to the Yahoo! Internet Life Web site, 3,631 open-enrollment accredited undergraduate two-year and four-year institutions in the U.S. were invited to participate. Results sent in by nearly 1,300 schools from all 50 states were tabulated and reviewed by the editors of Yahoo! Internet Life who determined the rankings, the Web site said. In 2000, the ranking considered 40 factors divided into four general categories: Access & Infrastructure, Administrative Services, General Resources, and Student Support, the Web site said. Juniata was ranked among other colleges and baccalaureate schools defined by Yahoo! Internet Life as "smaller schools that emphasize undergraduate baccalaureate degrees."

A simple comparison to last year?s results shows Juniata improved its ranking by 79 places. (Juniata was ranked 138th in the 1999 survey.) However, Yahoo! Internet Life points out that what was cutting edge online 12 months ago is behind the curve today. "For this reason, we don?t rely on ? and we urge readers not to rely on ? previous years? measures when ranking schools. Instead we update the survey each year to provide the best snapshot of wired services as they exist right now," the Web site said.

When Juniata students and faculty began classes Monday, Aug. 28, they were greeted with new technology, more technology, and technology that will allow for cutting-edge approaches to learning.

"In terms of the technology we offer, I think we measure up very favorably and that?s even against schools that ranked much higher than we did," said Anthony Bichel, director of Teaching Learning Technologies. More than 40 Juniata classrooms - all but two - have the latest, pedagogically-appropriate technology. "We?re probably at 98 or 99 percent of classrooms," Bichel said. "I would really like to make that fully 100 percent." In addition, the college has eight Smartboards, new digital video cameras, at least 100 new computers, a DVD burner, a DVD player in almost every classroom, three non-linear editing stations for creating movies and multi-media presentations via computer and much, much more. "Technologically-speaking, there?s almost nothing you can?t do at Juniata," Bichel said.

Art Manion, director of network infrastructure, agreed. "The bigger issue now is what we are doing to stay near the top in the long run," Manion said. "If we keep the pedal down and have some direction, I?d expect us to continue to climb."

Bichel said Juniata really excels in the area of "ACCESS. Not many other campuses allow faculty, staff or students to simply come in, sit down, log on and go to work on expensive equipment like non-linear editing stations. I think we?re doing more creative things with this technology than a lot of other places."

Perhaps another area in which Juniata out-distances the competition: "The college?s technological program is shaped dramatically here by the students, everything from training, to Web design, to policy," Bichel said. "Thanks to the students, we?re doing it all with a fraction of the full-time personnel that some institutions have. The level of student ownership is very high. We benefit greatly from their work, and they are getting valuable, hands-on work experience and a level of responsibility students usually aren?t afforded."

Bichel said the college?s future plans include streaming live video on the Internet and introducing Web-based course management software, a system that will standardize course information and allow faculty to have class chat rooms, give online quizzes and much more.

For more information about the Yahoo! Internet Life report, go to www.zdnet.com/yil/content/college/. Browse Juniata?s newly-designed Web site at www.juniata.edu.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.