By Juan Calvillo
WiFi is imperative at school, and getting a lasting connection at East Los Angeles College can be challenging, but not if students understand the system.
Students and faculty have voiced concerns over the WiFi connection on campus as was covered in an opinion piece in the Campus News Oct. 30 issue.
Nghi Nghiem, associate vice president of administrative services, said the campus WiFi has been updated since he first arrived on campus five years ago.
There are currently over 450 access points that cover the South Gate, Monterey Park and the corporate centers of ELAC.
Each of these access points have 20 to 22 reservation spots.
Nghiem said that the issues students and teachers have with their devices logging out can be explained quite easily.
He said that when a device takes a reservation spot, connects to an access point for WiFi, it will stay logged on as long as the device remains active.
If the device goes into sleep mode, or remains idle too long and goes into power-saving mode, the access point will take this as the device not needing to be connected.
The access point will then kick the user from the network and allow for an open reservation to be used by a device that is searching for WiFi.
Nghiem said that this often explains why disconnections happen to students.
With so many devices taking reservation spots all at once, all it takes is for one to go into a power saving mode and log out. Because so many other devices are looking for WiFi, that spot is quickly taken up.
Nghiem said that the higher populated areas on campus have more access points than those with less traffic.
As students move around the campus, coverage changes just with cell phones and the towers where they get signal.
“So if you’re walking from one point of the campus to another point and you enter a point where the access point is covered (full), well, there is no other reservation you can utilize. So at that point you may get dropped. You know what I’m saying. It’s a capacity issue,” Nghiem said.
This is the same as when you are on a call and you go from one cell tower to another.
Nghiem said that the quality can change because the new cell tower may have reached its limit of devices it can cover.
He said that because of the technology that the campus currently has, this is how things work.
Teachers on campus are split on the state of the campus WiFi system.
Leo Medina, associate professor in Computer Applied and Office Technologies Department, said he has never heard students complaining about the WiFi.
Many of the classes for the CAOT Department are held in building E7.
Instructor assistants and other faculty in the E7 building said that the building has great signal for students.
Frank Aguirre, professor in the Business Administration Department, said he never has issues with the wired computer in the classrooms he uses.
He said that he has only had two issues, one was a laptop that had inconsistent connection.
The second was an issue with Canvas, the online system for students and teachers that holds assignments and grades.
Aguirre said he has had issues with grades, not recording and being kicked off the system at random intervals.
Nghiem said that classrooms have access points inside them.
However, understanding that being idle can cause a laptop, tablet or phone to disconnect, can explain why sometimes students and teachers devices can disconnect even within a classroom setting.
Nghiem said that when it comes to Canvas, the ELAC Information Technology Department, IT, doesn’t have any real way to help aside from giving new passwords to teachers who forget theirs.
“If instructors are experiencing a lot of those struggles, unfortunately, I wish I could help. But, yeah, the district will be the one that can answer those questions,” Nghiem said.
Ramon J. Posada, professor of philosophy, said that he allows his students to use the campus WiFi to look up terms for his classes.
He said that often times, new students don’t even know the campus offers WiFi.
Posada tried logging onto the campus WiFi to search for something random, his office is in building F7.
His phone ended up using his carriers connection to accomplish his search.
Nghiem said that the IT Department, the district at large and bond managers are trying to create projects to improve the WiFi across not only at ELAC, but throughout all district schools.
“We’re always looking at improving. We won’t sit on our laurels thinking everything is great and nothing needs to be improved or done better,” Nghiem said.
“We recognize that the world of mobility is here. So we are, again, trying to create projects that can improve our capacities and services that all of our constituents are able to utilize.”