A Business Technology Place

College dorm living gets connected


My freshman year of college was in 1989. I remember my dorm room well. Cinder block walls with two beds, two desks, and two windows. The showers, toilets, and sinks were in the center of the hall shared by all rooms.

We had a TV in the room that had access to local channels thanks to an antennae. We had a computer with access to the online campus system via a 9600 or 14400 baud modem.  I  remember going online to register for classes. My other computing accesses was governed by a usage quota and the currency was fondly called “bananas”. The more time online and the more time spent compiling programmings the more bananas I used. There were a few times where I had to request more bananas!

And now.

Fast forward to 2014 and now I’m helping my daughter look at prospective colleges. The dorm life at some of her prospective schools has gone digital. Look at some of the amenities we found at one school in the dorm:

  • Wireless throughout the entire building
  • Premium cable TVpackage
  • Brita water station (ok, so not digital. But really cool)
  • Individual electronic temperature control in each suite
  • Laundry room with text alerts from washers and dryers
  • Shower and toilet shared by suite, not an entire hall (again not digital, but a little more homely)

Its good business.

We didn’t find this at all of the schools she looked at. But a couple of the schools had recently renovated the dorms with all the comforts of a modern home. It’s a nice touch and makes a big impression on a college bound student that is comparing schools.

I think it’s good business for the education industry. Colleges compete with each other and amenities are a factor in prospective student decisions just as the education is. Look at how athletic departments constantly upgrade their facilities to impress student athletes in attempt to draw the best to their school.

Who knows what the modern dorm rooms will look like when my grand children go to college.  They’ll probably be equipped with network connected appliances, illuminated projection devices, biosecurity devices for entry.

College students should take an interest in email

This article on Technology and the College Generation from the New York Times didn’t surprise me. I have two teenagers and I use other forms for digital and social media to communicate. I can see the preferences towards texting and Twitter.

But I couldn’t help but think about how the business world uses email as a primary communication medium. I think it’s in the best interest of students to use email while in college as a way to prepare them for what they will see every day with an employer.

Email is a challenge to manage for many people. The challenges include:

  • Managing the volume of messages and time management
  • Writing effective messages that are clear and concise
  • Practicing common courtesy

But we must all learn and develop skills to battle these challenges.

Email is slower only by choice of usage patterns. The speed at which we can read a message is only as fast as the frequency at which we check our inbox. It’s no different than checking a Twitter or Facebook stream.

I would argue that email is a more effective communication method because the message is delivered directly to a personal inbox. It’s not in a global stream of messages like some social media sites. That only increases the chance a message will be missed.

Don’t be afraid to require email. Write on.