College devises campus network

November 18, 1994

Edge Hill College has drawn up a radical strategic plan to create an information technology centre of excellence in the north-west.

The college, based in Ormskirk, Lancashire but with satellite centres in Chorley Woodlands and Fazakerley, plans to complete a fully integrated network of all sites by 1998.

Five key elements will be: * communications, including internal and external email, links with the Joint Academic Network (JANET), online to the Internet * management information systems * administrative systems * teaching and learning * services The limited use of IT at the college before last year enabled John Townsend, head of computer services, to help specify a rational strategy which could build on the strengths of Edge Hill.

The college has signed a Pounds 1 million open hire agreement with ICL and is investing in the campus-wide network and new buildings for facilities.

Edge Hill is committed with ICL to developing multimedia courseware for delivery of parts of the curriculum which includes the Postgraduate Certificate of Education and MA courses.

Professional and continuing education courses are based at the Chorley Woodlands campus 18 miles from Ormskirk, while Edge Hill's school of health studies runs most of its courses from the Aintree campus in Fazakerley.

Mr Townsend said the number of network connections to the Ormskirk campus increased in the last academic year from about 400 to more than 1,500.

The college has already spent Pounds 292,000 with Siemens Network Services to provide network connections in all staff offices and teaching rooms across the campus.

It has used part of that budget to install structured cabling in the new Learning Resource Centre which houses books, journals and audiovisual stock. The work also provided 150 PCs with access to Internet and JANET services, multimedia facilities and general applications.

The budget also covered installation of voice and data cabling in 300 study bedrooms in the new student residence block, data cabling in the student information centre and ISDN gateways to the Chorley and Fazakerley sites.

Mr Townsend said: "Our strategy is to maximise access to networked computing facilities for all students and staff. Networking of the existing campus is now complete. Future work will include revisiting the configuration with a view to higher bandwidths and the networking of new buildings such as the science block scheduled to open in 1995.

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