The Global Campus program will supply networking hardware, Net access, software, and consulting services to over 30 colleges and universities in addition to the 23 campuses of the California State University system.
"This will be vehicle that will ensure IBM Global Campus network will have the bandwidth. The focus is on improving quality of education," said an IBM spokesperson.
Maintaining superior university networks has been of increasing concern to researchers, students, and policy makers alike. IBM's announcement comes on the same day that President Clinton unveiled details of his plan to spend $500 million to bring K-12 schools and universities into the Digital Age by expanding Internet access capabilities at 100 universities, national labs, and other institutions.
IBM says that its plan will provide advanced networking capabilities through which students will eventually be able to apply for admission and financial aid, enroll in courses, and in some cases, take courses from remote locations.
Features of the initiative include the use of Lotus software for collaborative learning projects, IBM Internet Connection for Internet access, and multimedia servers that can be used to transfer educational materials in real time. Students and faculty will also have access to special purchasing and leasing programs for ThinkPad notebook computers. Universities will have consulting services available for help in implementing specific programs.
Not all schools will offer all the features of the program at the start, but it isn't inconceivable that the individual campuses will eventually form links between each other to create a "virtual" university, a spokesperson said.