The University Record, April 26, 1999

U ranks 28th in 'most wired' colleges survey

By Kerry Colligan

The U-M ranks 28th--up from 75th last year--in the 1999 survey of the country's "most wired" colleges. Conducted by Yahoo! Internet Life (YIL), a magazine published by the Web company of the same name, the survey released last week looks at 571 four-year colleges and universities to determine which is the most wired campus.

"This goes way beyond whose school has the biggest network," YIL editor's write. In its third year, the 1999 survey examined such factors as campus network size and speed, online services and usage, equipment availability and wireless services.

Contributing to U-M's higher ranking was the purchase of additional computers, replacement of more than 700 computers in the campus computing sites, upgrades to the network, expansion of the Basic Computing Package and available IFS space, and creation of new course tools that assist faculty in providing online instruction.

"The information technology providers on the University's three campuses identified and began addressing many of the issues related to IT services at the University," says Jose-Marie Griffiths, University Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Information Technology Division. "The results of the Yahoo! survey reflect some of their collaborative efforts."

Other factors in the shift in rankings include changes in Yahoo's criteria and more precise questions. According to YIL, the improved questioning resulted in schools' abilities to better answer the questions, which impacted the rankings. Although questions were more directed, refinement may still be necessary.

The survey states that 59 percent of U-M students have registered for a dedicated network connection in their dorm room. While that is true, every U-M dorm room has network services available. Some students choose to use computers in the sites, including those in the resident sites, rather than purchase a computer.

The survey also cites the availability of 23.5 computers per 100 students. This number includes computers provided by the University in the Campus Computing Sites, laboratories and the Cyber Lounge. Students are not required to purchase a computer, making it difficult to determine the actual number of computers accessible by students.

"While the survey is still not perfect, eventually, as [YIL editors] fine-tune the questions, it will most likely serve as a national benchmark," says Griffiths. "Since students put credence in these rankings and may make decisions on the school they attend based on surveys such as this, we will continue to take the survey seriously with the aim of being the number one wired university in the nation. Our ultimate goal, however, is to provide the University community with the best information technology services available to help meet the mission of the University."

"As with much else on the Net, this is a moving target," YIL states. Regardless, some trends prevail.

Some of the trends cited by YIL:

  • 98 percent of the respondents offer an online course schedule.

  • 90 percent allow students to apply electronically.

  • 82 percent permit students to register online.

  • 51 percent of institutions allow students to keep their e-mail address for life.

  • 48 percent grant alumni free access to the campus network.

  • 24 percent restrict Web access for content reasons.

    The survey is available on the Web at www.zdnet.com/yil/content/college/.


    Top 10 Most 'Wired' Colleges/Universities

    1. Case Western Reserve University--91.49

    2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology--90.45

    3. Wake Forest University--86.85

    4. New Jersey Institute of Technology--86.73

    5. Rensselaer Polytechnic--86.21

    6. Carnegie Mellon University--86.07

    7. Washington State University--84.07

    8. Gettysburg College--82.96

    9. Indiana University, Bloomington--82.57

    10. Dakota State University--82.06

    28. University of Michigan--78.86