At Princeton, the Internet is not just for surfing anymore.
The Internet is used not only in engineering and science classes, but also in liberal arts courses. For example, students in politics and history courses are encouraged to access Websites and homepages posted by their professors as teaching aids.
History instructor Frank Trentmann said "the use of the Internet allows me to distribute visual sources like pictures and diagrams and I also have music that I can put on the Website.
According to Trentmann, the Internet has proven to be invaluable to him and his students.
"The main advantage is it allows me, in lecture, to have the attention of the students because they do not have to study the slides or pictures then and there, but can access the course Website at their own leisure and study it at their own speed," he explained. "Given the cost of color Xeroxing, that would be hard to do any other way."
Other professors said they use the Internet as a means for students to submit coursework. For example, students in Psychology 101 hand in lab reports via email.
"It saves paper, for one thing. Also, it is so the lab instructors can give detailed feedback on the email and send it back as a reply," said Psychology 101 professor Ronald Kinchla.
Use of the Internet has become so routine that professors often distribute email addresses along with their phone numbers in course syllabi and encourage correspondence or questions to be submitted through email.
Kinchla said that the use of the Internet reinforces the student-teacher relationship. "The use of email does not replace personal interaction. Through email, students can set up appointments faster. I can get more students to come in and see me," he said.
Students responded positively to the increased use of the Internet to complement their classes. "For several of my classes, I have to post responses on the Web," Sonia Wadhwa '99 said. "I think Internet resources are very useful and easily accessible on campus."
Wadhwa said the Internet also helps her to perform duties as a resident advisor. "As an R.A., I can send group emails to my advisees and can also receive email from the Third World Center, Women's Center and various student organizations on campus," she said.
The use of email, however, is not limited to the academic realm. Students also use the Internet to keep social contacts. "Email is also a fast and sure way to get in touch with my friends on campus as well as a way to stay in touch with people at other universities," Wadhwa said.
Despite continuous Dormnet glitches and recent email interruptions, in 1997 the University ranked 12th on the recent Yahoo! list of the nation's top 'wired' schools.
The survey, conducted by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, annually examines which universities provide the most access and exposure to the Internet. According to the online magazine, the survey addressed four categories in its rankings: academics, hardware and wiring, social use and student services.
Among the schools which have Internet capabilities, the ranking points out that specific services vary. Some criteria examined by the survey included student accessibility to online library catalogs, the World Wide Web and email.
One important ranking category involved the accessibility of online academic data. Like Princeton, many larger schools, such as New York University and the University of Texas at Austin, offer access to grades and transcripts via the Internet. However, many other universities do not provide this option citing privacy issues.