By Matias Maquieira/Delta Staff Writer
While many students were far from campus, Missouri Valley College’s IT Department spent the summer making upgrades to the wireless internet system.
With students using platforms like Brightspace or Connect to do homework and most -if not everyone- having at least one electronic device, it is very important to make sure that the internet support is “working the way it should,” said Omar Al Refae, the chief of the IT department.
The modernization of the wireless network consisted of two parts.
The first one was replacing all of the access points and adding three-hundred more to the two-hundred that were already installed. With these upgrades, IT doubled the number of devices that can connect to these access points at the same time.
Additionally, the staff replaced the fiber optic connections, which are the underground connections between buildings.
“Most of our fiber connections were done a long time ago and the material was not as good as it is now, so we replaced it for single mode fiber, which is a lot faster and more resilient,” Al Refae said. “Before we used to handle 1 GB of speed, now we are able to handle 10 GB.”
Students not only use the internet for homework and classes, they also use it for entertainment such as gaming and TV services. However, the new project got much more serious and started to be thought of when the Covid-19 situation started back in March 2020 due to the obligation of changing the college system to online learning.
“When Covid came, we had to make sure that everything was better because, with the change to online classes, everything had to work the best way possible or we were going to have some problems there,” Al Refae said.
The Information Technology Department is looking to improve more things in the next year, including a new student portal and mobile application, and they are also focusing hardly on cybersecurity: the new two-factor authentication process for the “moval.edu” mail is a demonstration of that.
Al Refae acknowledged that technology costs a lot of money but that it is crucial to have it updated because he believes that they should meet the students’ expectations and that the internet is the future, for the jobs of the current students as well as his thought that it will replace paper some day.
“We can’t have you graduate from here without experience on the internet because a lot of jobs nowadays use a computer to do the work,” he said.
It is a fact that the Covid virus had an influence on the amount of time taken to upgrade the internet services, due to the excessive time that it takes to ship the new articles that make possible these improvements, but this department is always trying to evaluate what they have and improve it to offer the best experience online for students.