By Alicia Buller
Five years since Dubai Women’s College (DWC) first piloted its ‘laptop for every student’ initiative in 1999, the college forges ahead with the implementation of MS Exchange 2003
Five years since Dubai Women’s College (DWC) first piloted its ‘laptop for every student’ initiative in 1999, the college forges ahead with the implementation of MS Exchange 2003.
The college is in phase one of delivering the Microsoft Exchange upgrade to all of its laptops, with a long-term view to extend this access to mobile devices. Brent Pienarr, IT coordinator, DWC attributes the organisation’s need to upgrade its e-mail server to the evolving education model of the college. “Learning has moved away from clearly delineated subjects in block lessons to a more project-based model,” he says.
Subjects like English, Maths and Science that were formerly taught in a classroom are now integrated into multidisciplinary projects and require teamwork. So the need for student and teacher collaboration is paramount.
“We have been running basic e-mail for six years now. So we decided that we wanted to harness new technology to make student collaboration more effective,” says Pienaar. In Autumn 2003, he managed the implementation of Microsoft Exchange for the entire college population. By mid-2004, the college hopes to enable all staff and students to access the upgraded functionality of MS Exchange 2003 — full calendars, full tasks, shared scheduling — via laptops, many of them IBM ThinkPad Rseries.
DWC’s infrastructure has been primed for the switch to fully collaborative computing with the gradual installation of hardware, software and services over the last five years. The college system comprises of clustered IBM xSeries 440 servers, plus two each of IBM’s x345 and x335 servers; MS Exchange server 2003; MS Office Sharepoint server 2003; MS Live Communications server 2003; with IBM ThinkPads running on MS Windows XP. T
This infrastructure provides the foundations for the realisation of DWC’s vision — “[To] create a more authentic and technologically-rich learning environment so that students are ready for the work-world outside,” says Dr. Howard Reed, the college’s director.
The MS Exchange rollout will enable students to arrange appointments online with lecturers, improve appointment scheduling by making free and busy time visible on the network, deliver real time online meeting capacity, and allow students to access the college’s course information on the network.