The 4G Campus: Purdue & Verizon School Students With LTE


verizon4g“How do you make a better engineer? a better nurse? a better statistician?” – that’s the question Scott Ksander posed when asked what Purdue University’s 4G Campus would mean for their students. In partnership with Verizon Wireless, who today announced details of their 4G launch, have created a fully connected 4G campus. From the dorms, to the classrooms, and through the quads in between.

The average person may hear “The 4G Campus” and think, “Whipdy Doo… fast internet,” but not Scott Ksander. The Purdue Alumn has worked in data networking at his Alma Mater for 25 years, and along with a dedicated 12+ person team and executive oversight, has been working on this initiative for nearly 2 years.

Sure, 4G means faster internet, but Mr. Ksander argues it’s just a foundation for answering the rhetorical questions he previously posed.

“Do you remember when technology jumped from 56k modems to Cable Internet?”

Unfortunately I did. I remembered hearing those awful crackling robot sounds when my modem dialed up. I remembered waiting 30 seconds for a single image to load. I remembered loading up videos and… oh wait, nevermind, I don’t remember loading up videos.

purdueMr. Ksander’s illustration of the migration from 56k to Cable was the perfect example of why he feels the 4G Campus will transform the way students learn. And ultimately, it will create better engineers, better nurses, better statisticians, and so on and so forth.  The 4G Campus can’t be complacent with great data speeds, but instead requires Purdue to leverage this newfound asset to improve the educational experience of their students.

And that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Take for a example an app called Signals that Purdue has prototyped and tested. It essentially “tracks” their location and their interaction with courses through Blackboard, and looks for signals as to how they can improve and earn better grades based on what they are or aren’t doing.

Invasion of privacy? The paranoia with knowing where you are will never cease, but Signals doesn’t care to share location information with anyone. Not professors, classmates, parents or anyone else. Instead, it uses that information to make suggestions based on patterns. However, both professors and students have access to course-related information.

Scott Ksander“You’re 5 weeks into the course and haven’t been in the building where your course meets yet? Yeah, you’re probably not doing the best job,” joked Mr. Ksander, while also making a good point, “Maybe you haven’t read the syllabus, haven’t visited the website recently, or haven’t done other suggested things that could improve your grades.”

Carry around “Signals” on the 4G Campus and you don’t need to do much for it to work. It learns what you’re doing and makes recommendations on how to improve. I think of it as a tool that learns what you’re doing and tries to help you create better study habits by offering personalized recommendations.

Purdue tested Signals and with great results: students who participated in the experiment earned (on average) a full letter grade above students who did not participate. If nothing else, Signals illustrates how Purdue is approaching education from a different angle, trying to find new and innovative ways to support their overall goals with technology. With 4G come opportunities to create entirely new experiences, much like going from slow loading images on 56k to streaming YouTube video on Cable Modem. But Verizon 4G is the next generation of technological growth and perhaps a bigger boom than even those previous.

Let’s go all CSI on you for a minute. In an episode of “Dirty Jobs”, Purdue University’s Forensic Entymology Team’s study of insects on decomposing pig carcasses was featured in an episode called “Bug Detective”.

dirtyjobs“Insects are important to murder investigations because they are a natural part of decomposition of animals, including humans,” said entomology professor Ralph Williams. The crime scenes are artificial but realistically disgusting with decomposing pigs in trashcans and the whole nine yards. So how does Purdue and Verizon’s 4G Campus make this learning experience a better learning experience?

With Verizon’s 4G Network, which is 10x quicker than their 3G network, Purdue could set up a mobile lab at the virtual crime scene. Instead of  collecting data and going back to the classroom to do “work” and then home to do “homework”, 4G connectivity would allow them to do various imagery and tests, analyze it on-site, and compile and transmit tons of data in real-time and in a mobile environment. In the case of this Criminology course, 4G will completely transform and enrich the entire learning process.

Signals and the mobile crime scene are just two examples of how Purdue is trying to leverage their 4G campus. The University is currently gearing up a development group to make small production apps and testing the deployment of different ideas to extend the learning experience.

When talking about businesses we often hear how people are their biggest asset. For Purdue, people are the product they supply. And for Mr. Ksander and his team, they’re right in the middle, trying to learn about the people coming in so they can mold the best students by the time they’re on the way out. And in that middle ground, technology is one of the largest tools Purdue has at its disposal.

I’m confident that Purdue’s 4G Campus will be a huge success because simply put, they’re asking the right questions. It isn’t about doing things “by the book” or clinging to “the traditional way”. It also isn’t about tossing up the latest technology and telling students to get up and at it. It’s about facilitating a deeper and better experience with all the technology available- in this case, Verizon’s hot off the presses 4G LTE network (but keep in mind Purdue/Verizon have been working on this partnership for 2 years!). Because 4G technology is so new, the possibilities are endless and the best ideas haven’t even been thought up – but watch out, because it sounds like the team at Purdue is brainstorming.

Remember those questions, “”How do you make a better engineer? a better nurse? a better statistician?” Purdue University is well on their way. The manner my conversation with Mr. Ksander ended may have had the most profound effect on my opinion of their partnership with Verizon and the 4G Campus:

purduephone“A lot of times in higher ed we think the job is to teach the students. In this particular area I think my job is to learn from the students. Grade school kids, high school kids, come and tell me what you’re doing, what’s the coolest thing you’ve done in the last 90 days, who are your BFFs and how do you stay in touch,” and he continued, but it’s the approach that amazed me. He can’t leverage technology for his college students if he doesn’t understand how they currently use it and how they want to use it in the future.

Technology is an enabler and Purdue’s partnership with Verizon Wireless will provide tremendous opportunities for students and faculty alike. But the deeper question of “what are we enabling?” and “Why?” are also at the heart of the matter. Having 4G technology is great, but what are the greatest things we’ll accomplish with this newfound speed? That has yet to be determined, but I’m glad the folks at Purdue are helping us figure it out.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

@DroidLanding Twitter Account Open for Giveaway Business, Once Again

Previous article

Official Google Reader App is Now Available

Next article

You may also like


  1. Makes me want to go to Purdue!I am jealous.

  2. Must be a lot of mistakes happening in Verizon’s Art Department. First, they made a Droid X add with a iPhone app photoshopped onto the device’s screen. Now, they created a Purdue phone made with an HTC Evo that is exclusive to Sprint.

  3. Boiler up!

  4. The University of Akron did the same thing. I spoke to a member of the student government at the University of Akron and Verizon was asked by the University to put in 4G. I go to University of Akron so I’m pumped!

  5. @chris, verizon most likely does not have an lart department”. Most companies turn to agencies for advertising.

  6. I’m currently in MSEE right now!…except its freezing out…maybe the 4g speeds can create a super fast network of heaters to heat the campus…..maybe

    The funny part is that we’re all college students…how the hell are we going to afford 4g?

  7. I love Purdue anyway, but unless they get Sprint’s 4G in there too, I’m gonna call bs.

  8. @Chris – that was my own photoshopping snafu, not Verizon’s! Fixed!

  9. I still can’t believe a college campus is getting LTE before we do in Indianapolis, a large metropolitan city.

  10. I go to Purdue and have used Signals- I really don’t see how it would benefit from 4G at all. I have been a member of the mobile phone development group inside the college of technology before- and I think that before they start focusing on leveraging faster networks at higher speeds- they should work on increasing the range of their mobile infrastructure- you can’t even access signals in a handful of the buildings on campus. Just my 2 cents.

    Boiler up

  11. @Chris – That’s not an Evo, it’s the HTC Incredible that is exclusive to Verizon

  12. So I guess cable internet speeds in excess of 150MBPS and up to 300MBPS+ isnt important….slow wireless is important. Just round up some nice fiber internet and broadcast the signal….problem solved!

  13. @Steven You can’t get cable speeds in the Library, the Lounge areas, Food Courts, or anywhere other than a computer lab or on-campus housing.

  14. But exactly how fast is it? Is it just marketing hype? Tmobile still has the fastest network, by far. 4G means 100 Mbps, which I highly doubt Verizon is offering on that campus.

  15. @Jake…you are right. You cant get it. So whats the difference with integrating LTE over any other platform. To me is sounds like a big waste going with a slow wireless service compared to a nice wired service with multiple, real wireless hotspots. Id much rather have a nice wired setup with a wireless broadcast.

  16. Verizon is throwing a lot money into a launch party this weekend in San Diego. They want you to “be part of history” and celebrate inside a 12,000 square foot tent venue with a huge stage, LED Wall, Plasmas, Projectors, Lights! The concert will have live performances from Ozomatli, DJ Mike Relm & Cindy Santini. Capacity is set to 1000 & 300 people will get VIP access to meet the band, special Verizon Perks and VIP Treatment in our VIP Section with Free food and drinks. Come see Verizon rule the air.

  17. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=113683795363462 Verizon is throwing a lot money into a launch party this weekend in San Diego. They want you to “be part of history” and celebrate inside a 12,000 square foot tent venue with a huge stage, LED Wall, Plasmas, Projectors, Lights! The concert will have live performances from Ozomatli, DJ Mike Relm & Cindy Santini. Capacity is set to 1000 & 300 people will get VIP access to meet the band, special Verizon Perks and VIP Treatment in our VIP Section with Free food and drinks. Come see Verizon rule the air.

  18. Boiler Up!!! Wooooo!!!!!!!!!

  19. RHIT FTW!!! oh wait..

    Suddenly this makes sense as to why there has been little-to-no updates in the rest of the state, other than Ft. Wayne…

    Indy getting LTE.. makes sense. Colts = subscribers = revenue.

  20. I really fail to see how Signals is at all related to having an operable 4G network.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Featured