This winter break was particularly busy for IT. Not only were we performing the usual equipment maintenance and system updates, we were also implementing some highly-visible upgrades.
“We expect that the campus community will be pleased with the upgrades we made during the break,” says W&M IT Chief Information Officer Courtney Carpenter. “They will enhance both work and play. Students and faculty alike will enjoy them.”
So, what upgrades are we talking about?
Cable TV Went Digital
The W&M Cable TV system switched from an analog signal to a digital signal on Thursday, January 5th. With the change comes new features like high-definition programming and an expanded channel line-up; going from 72 channels to 115. Of the new channels, 84 of them will be HD channels. See the new digital channel line-up.
Clear QAM television tuners are needed to receive digital cable service. Most flat screen televisions that were made after 2007 already have QAM tuners installed and will work on the new digital system - after the television has been reprogrammed. However, some (generally older) televisions will need an external Clear QAM turner to function, which can be purchased separately. See more details about digital cable TV requirements.
Contour – Watch Cable TV from any Device
As part of the television upgrades, W&M IT was able to negotiate a new service from Cox called Contour. Contour allows live Cable TV to stream to computers, phones, and tablets.
“Contour is a game changer,” says Carpenter. “Most students would prefer to watch cable television from their mobile devices, anyway.”
The network infrastructure for Contour is currently under development. Contour will become available to W&M students, faculty, and staff while on the W&M campus during the Spring 2017 semester.
Upgraded Classroom Tech Equipment
Over half of the classrooms on the W&M campus, 56 of them to be exact, got an equipment upgrade. New touchscreen control panels replaced older button versions, and the routing switchers behind them were also upgraded.
AirMedia is a new feature included with the newly installed upgraded panels. AirMedia allows anyone in the room to wirelessly share the screen of their notebook, phone, or tablet to the classroom projector system. That means a professor could jump quickly between different devices during a lecture (like going between a presentation on a laptop and a demonstration on an iPad). Or a student could share his/her own laptop screen with the entire class from where they sit, without having to plug-in to wires from the classroom podium.
The AirMedia and touchscreen panel upgrades took place in Morton Hall, James Blair Hall, Tucker Hall, Blow Hall, and the School of Education. Upgrades to projectors were made in Small Hall 110 & 111, as well as Andrews Hall 101, which allows for brighter screen images. The James Blair Hall classroom projectors were also upgraded earlier last semester.
In addition to the equipment upgrades, an enhanced remote monitoring system was also installed in classrooms. This will allow W&M IT’s Classroom Support team to troubleshoot problems with AV equipment in a quicker and more efficient manner.
Wireless Network Upgrade Completion
An upgrade to the wireless network is coming to a completion. Beginning in early 2016, the project entailed upgrading all wireless equipment throughout the entire campus, creating more effective configurations of that equipment, and upgrading the wireless protocol. Network engineers used the winter break to do some of the final (and most complicated) installations of the wireless access points.
Read more about the Wireless Network Upgrade.
As you can see the 2016-2017 winter break was a busy and productive time for W&M IT. When students return and classes begin for the start of the Spring 2017 semester, there will be a noticeable upgrade in frequently used IT services (cable TV, classroom technology, and the wireless network). We hope that you enjoy these services as much as we believe you will. It’s a good way to ring in a new year!