Amherst College “IT Index” Tracks Student, Campus Tech Use Over Time

September 26, 2008  

AMHERST, Mass.—It’s a new academic year at Amherst College, which means a new class of undergraduates with new attitudes and aptitudes about technology—and, of course, new gadgets. Peter Schilling, the college’s director of information technology, provides the following snapshot of how students use technology and how wired the college is. Modeled after the Harper’s Index feature in Harper’s Magazine, Schilling calls it his own Amherst IT Index.

•    Percentage of applicants who applied for admission to Amherst online in 2003: 33 percent.
•    Percentage of applicants who did the same in 2007: 89 percent.
•    Year that members of an incoming Amherst class first created a Facebook group so that they could get to know each other prior to arriving on campus: 2006.
•    Total number of members and posts on the Amherst Class of 2012 Facebook group page by the end of August 2008: 432 members and 3,225 posts out of a class of 438 students.
•    Students in the Class of 2012 who registered computers, iPhones, game consoles and other devices on the campus network by the end of Sunday, August 24, the day they moved into their dorm rooms: 370 students registered 443 devices.
•    Number of students in the Class of 2012 who brought desktop computers to campus: 14.
•    Number of students who brought iPhones/iTouches: 93.
•    Likelihood that an Amherst undergraduate with an iPhone/iTouch is a member of the class of 2012: approximately 1 in 2.
•    Total number of students on campus this year with landline phone service: 5.
•    Of the four classes currently on campus, the Classes of 2009 and 2010 are more likely to own PCs, while the Classes of 2011 and 2012 are more likely to own Macs.
•    Total bandwidth to and from the Internet available on campus in September 2000:  3 megabits per second.
•    Total bandwidth to and from the Internet available on campus today: 100 megabits per second for the Internet and 45 for Internet 2.
•    Percentage of Amherst classrooms that have an LCD projector and a computer or laptop hookup: 85 percent.
•    Number of individual film titles in the college’s digital video streaming collection: 1,260.
•    Number of times these films were watched last year: 20,662.
•    Average number of e-mails received on campus per day: 180,000.
•    Percentage of total e-mail that arrives as spam: 94 percent.
•    Percentage of storage space taken up by e-mail—a system designed to send brief text messages—that is actually taken up by the files attached to the emails: 95 percent. (The storage required for e-mail and attachments for the year 2007 alone was equal to that of the preceding five years together.)
•    Increase in the total number of college-owned computers in use on campus from 2005 to 2008: 413, for a 2008 total of 1,308.
•    Total number of calls and e-mails to the IT Help Desk in 2007: 8,650.
•    Average time required to close a help-desk ticket: 39 minutes.
•    Based on the first nine months of 2008, estimated percentage increase in Help Desk tickets in 2008 over 2007: 11 percent (or 15.6 weeks of work for a staff member).
•    Job applicants interviewed for 12 openings in IT in the last year who learned about Amherst positions through postings in regional, national or professional, publications, Web sites or lists: 1.

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