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10/6/2008
06:49 PM
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Wi-Fi May Help College Students Get Better Grades

But students can be distracted from classwork, too, as more than half in a survey said they checked Facebook or MySpace and sent or received e-mail while in class.

Use Wi-Fi, get better grades.

That's the message of a survey of U.S. college students, with three out of five respondents saying they wouldn't attend a college that doesn't have Wi-Fi.

And, yes, it makes learning much easier, too, according to 79% of the students who said college would be much harder without Wi-Fi. The survey of 501 students was conducted by Wakefield Research for the Wi-Fi Alliance.

"Wi-Fi has become a universal expectation among college students and their attitudes towards technology are a good indicator of broad changes underway in how we as a society learn, work and communicate," said Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, in a statement. "Young adults expect access to information with unprecedented immediacy."

The alliance indicated that many prospective college students observe whether colleges they are considering attending have widespread Wi-Fi access.

Once they become students, many -- two in five -- use Wi-Fi to get a head start on assignments before a class concludes. But students can be distracted from classwork, too. More than half said they checked Facebook or MySpace and sent or received e-mail while in class.

"Wi-Fi is expected as part of today's campus experience both from an educational perspective as well as from a social perspective," said Stan Schatt, VP and research director at ABI Research. "We expect to see Wi-Fi penetration in U.S. universities at 99% by 2013."

Colleges and universities have been adding to their Wi-Fi offerings on campuses, and the phenomenon appears to be gathering momentum. While Dartmouth, always on the leading edge of technology offerings for students, could launch an ambitious Wi-Fi program in 2005, the University of Minnesota is currently rolling out what it announced as "the world's largest 802.11n deployment." It will cover more than 1,200 acres when completed.

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