As you might expect, colleges and universities are among the leaders in the adoption and implementation of green technologies. They have always been more inclined to experimentation than their enterprise counterparts. So when it comes to reducing their environmental impact, through commitments such as the climate-neutral campus, Leeds building construction, and renewable energy, they are leading the way through research, development, and implementation.
In fact, a 2008 survey of its members by ACUTA, the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, found two out of three colleges and universities had gone or were enthusiastically going green. With that kind of momentum behind the push for green, it is clearly one of the top trends in higher education technology today. As colleges and universities face increased competition, sustainability is one more tipping point in terms of recruiting and retaining the best faculty, staff, and students.
Wireless is a big part of this green movement, for some obvious reasons and some that may not be so obvious. Students today are bringing their own networks to campus and utilizing those same networks and edge devices to extend the traditional reach of teaching and challenging traditional pedagogical practices. The ability to learn, teach, and collaborate from anywhere on mobile devices – some schools go so far as to issue such devices to students, compelling them to be mobile – enables greater educational productivity, but also aids in reducing one’s carbon footprint.
For example, reading textbooks or learning management system content digitally, particularly on a mobile device, can greatly reduce the paper and energy involved in printing and shipping traditional textbooks. Some universities have made it clear that they are aiming to go exclusively to e-books within two years. Leveraging the Sprint 3G/4G network through devices like the Overdrive, which allows up to five users or enables up to five WiFi devices on 3G/4G speeds, can help to accelerate that adoption model, by providing access almost anywhere.
For the IT and facility departments at colleges and universities, this move to mobile devices reduces the need for power-hungry desktop computers. Also, use of M2M (machine-to-machine) technologies aids higher ed IT departments, which can place automated M2M sensors throughout campus to better monitor, and thus reduce energy consumption and help to optimize water usage.
With 3G/4G access, students can access online or distance education resources from anywhere, eliminating the need to travel to central locations, saving fuel as well as time.
On the wired side, Sprint’s network resources provide the foundation for both cloud computing applications and server virtualization, both of which can reduce an institution’s needs for on-site computing resources and the power they consume. And then there are savings in terms of the power required to cool equipment in data centers and equipment closets. Less equipment, less cooling.
And let’s not forget unified communications. UC – presence , mobility, and options like SIP trunking – can help institutions reduce desksets, and provide a platform to link to multiple campus locations. UC’s ability to enable work, communication, and collaboration from anywhere is very well suited to the needs of faculty, staff, and students.