Sunday, October 28, 2018

FCC Proposed New 6 GHz Wifi Spectrum

On October 2, the FCC proposed WiFi access to the 6 GHz region (5.925-7.125 GHz) in addition to the currently accessible 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands of frequencies. 
Currently most WiFi access points operate at either one of those 2.4 GHz of 5 GHz bands. Problems arise as more and more devices are connecting via WiFi. Due to longer wavelengths, 2.4 GHz band signals travel further but with the growing plethora of wireless devices, often suffer from congestion and interference. The 5 GHz band typically operates at higher speeds but does not travel as far due to the shorter wavelengths. 
Opening up the 6 GHz region will provide close to three times what is available in the 2.4 and 5 GHz regions - great for locations where lots of people are connecting at the same time (think college campuses, airport terminals, etc). 
The 6 Ghz frequency region is currently used for point-to-point microwave links and earth-to-space communications along with other data links and there will likely be some opposition. There is a current FCC public commenting period and there will be another vote once the commenting period is over. For details you can read the full FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for ET Docket No. 18-295; GN Docket No. 17-183 linked here.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Successful Academic Program Secret Sauces

I’ve had the recent opportunity to get back in the classroom with traditional students (18-22 years old) after a 20 year semi-administrative hiatus. The experience has been more than an eye opener for me. Students today are connected 24/7 with mobile the communications method of choice. Instant access to information, family, friends and peers has made students much more aware of options and opportunities. As a result, they are often not afraid to walk away and try something else if a program does not feel right. 

How does this relate to our academic programs? We are working hard to recruit students into our programs and continue to work hard to get them through our courses and graduate but…. we all end up losing some. Can we do a better job retaining students in our classes? Can we better help students that are motivated but struggling? Can we learn from our faculty peers at other institutions? Why are some programs more successful than others? 

Here’s a short successful program secret sauce list based on my observations: 

  • They have faculty that have strong professional relationships with students. 
  •  They have faculty that make students aware of services that are available on their campuses. 
  • They have faculty that identify students early who may be at-risk and help them get the support they need. 
  • They have faculty that assess students early and often in every course to help identify and advise students that may need a little extra support. Ideally this includes weekly quizzes and homework assignments that are promptly graded and returned to students the following class. 
  • They have faculty that refer students to the proper service for larger issues as appropriate. 
Some things never change - the most successful programs and courses are likely the ones where faculty are most professionally engaged with their students.