On July 13, Bradley University announced that it is partnering with mobile telecommunication company, T-Mobile to help better the technological divide on campus.
The announcement came via a post on the university’s Instagram page and a press release on Bradley Magazine. The press release provided further details of what the partnership was going to bring to the university.
T-Mobile plans to make Bradley’s campus digitally connected by powering the campus with their 5G Advanced Network Solutions (ANS).
“T-Mobile’s 5G ANS will allow Bradley to utilize a hybrid mobile network that provides faster speeds, lower latency and dedicated reliability to enrich Bradley’s learning environment,” Executive Director of Media Relations and External Communications, Libby Derry wrote in the press release.
Not only is there going to be a new network on Bradley’s campus, but also new technological devices. T-Mobile plans to provide full-time faculty, students and student facing staff with 10th generation iPads, Bradley branded keyboard cases and an unlimited data plan.
However, with the multitude of students on Bradley’s campus, the iPads are a part of a slower roll out. The first iPads will be gifted to full-time faculty in the early months of the 2023 fall semester. Then, throughout the 2023-2024 school year more iPads will be given to students named “discovery cohorts” before fall semester of the 2024-2025 school year where all faculty, staff and students will be given an iPad along with the 5G internet.
The “discovery cohort” initiative is a plan where different students in the multiple colleges on campus will use the iPads to see how it improves their learning experience before reporting back to the development team with feedback.
“Now this [the iPads] provides a platform where if there was an app that was specific to a type of learning in a course they [the professors] can now offer that,” Director of Peoria Next Innovation Center, Mike Stubbs said.
While the new 5G network brings a more efficient internet connection, it does not bring any new upgrades to the current WiFi network. That being said, the network does indirectly help the campus in quite a few ways.
According to the Interim CIO, Brian Cheney, the iPads given to students will reduce the amount of data that is transmitted on the university’s campus. This will make the current WiFi system more accessible to students and faculty on their personal technological devices.
The press release makes note of the digital divide that is found on college campuses around the country where unreliable internet connections cause unnecessary stress in students. Faculty members of the university hope that the new initiative will help close the gap on Bradley’s campus.
“We are confident that by providing students an iPad along with an unlimited T-Mobile data plan, Bradley can differentiate itself by advancing a true sense of community and belonging through equitable digital access that is unmatched by any other university in the nation,” President of the University Stephen Standifird said in the press release.