January 23, 2014
Would you consider Hamilton wired? No, not stressed and tense, but technologically wired. Recently Unigo, a website featuring reviews and rankings of the country’s top colleges, named Hamilton the fourth “most wired” college in the country. There are two sides to this recognition: Hamilton’s success with technology as an aid to education and Hamilton’s success with education about technology. There’s no doubt that Hamilton does well in both categories, but are we really fourth best in the U.S.? Let’s look at the facts.
There are many technological elements in place helping Hamilton students learn and grow. Hamiltonians are no strangers to omnipresent Wi-Fi, web printing, nonstop mass emails, Doodle polls and Survey Monkey. Additionally, according to Unigo, we have a high 2:1 student-to-computer ratio, which includes both Macs and PCs. What’s more, Hamilton students are expected to be well-informed about the technological resources on campus. Before new student orientation this year, the first years were required to complete a comprehensive ITS test going over important information and resources available to students at Hamilton (and trust me it was not easy).
Administrators are also making good use of the technology available on campus. Technology does not overshadow learning, but truly serves to aid it. For example, I was impressed with the use of interactive polling used in presentations during orientation. By using our cellphones, we were able to submit answers to questions and see the distribution of answers on graphs in real time.The application allowed me and my classmates to have a better understanding of the different beliefs and cultures in our class. This live polling demonstrates how our administrators handle advanced technology with grace and skill.
Another example of supportive but non-dominating technologies are our advanced, integrated classrooms. This is one aspect of Hamilton that exceeded my expectations when I first came to the Hill. For example, my Psychology 101 classroom has stadium seated desks with outlets at every seat. The room is very modern and clean with hues and lighting designed for an optimal learning environment. At the front of the class there is an old-fashioned sliding chalkboard in addition to a projector option. The first time my professor brought down the screen to use the projector, she was met with oohs and aahs from me and my classmates as we watched the room automatically transform. Certain lights dimmed up or down and window screens magically slid down to prevent glare. Even in a world of Wi-Fi, iPads, iPhones and Bluetooth, I think my classmates and I agreed: It was pretty cool.
The other aspect of Hamilton’s fourth most wired honor is our cutting-edge technology education. Hamilton has a wonderfully community oriented Computer Science department. Though such a program may appear to have a disadvantage at a tiny liberal arts school, this is not the case. Hamilton graduates are recruited by technology leaders such as IBM, Google, Apple and more. No doubt Hamilton’s emphasis on speech and writing contributes in part to our particular success. I personally know Hamilton grads at Facebook, as well as other grads attempting to navigate the world of online business.
Clearly, Hamilton fulfills both sides to its “wired” title. However, there is always room for improvement. I believe our potential for growth lies in the fine details. Technology in academic and other buildings can continue to be tightened. We can fix the glitches and continue to integrate new technologies where they make sense. For instance, we can incorporate new technologies like artificial intelligence into different projects and endeavors, and possibly replace the old clunkers of televisions in Hamilton dorms. All in all, we technological future as a refined version of what it is now: a network of advanced technology working in the background to boost our educational and recreational experiences.