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Northwest Missouri State University has been directly and indirectly involved in computing technology since 1945 when Northwest alumnus Jean Jennings Bartik became one of the first computer programmers. It should be noted that Jean was one of only six women involved in programming the ENIAC, the world's first Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. She also went on to program the UNIVAC I, the world's first commercial computer.
During the decades following World War II, Northwest was typical of other educational institutions of similar size in introducing computer technology cautiously and primarily to aid administrative needs. However, in 1987, Northwest unveiled its innovative Electronic Campus Program that was designed to enrich student learning and enhance faculty research and instruction by placing a terminal in every residence hall room and every office.
Northwest Missouri State University implemented the first comprehensive networked campus in the nation at a public university in 1987 as an effort to better prepare its faculty, staff and more than 6,000 students for the emerging information-driven society. Northwest's Electronic Campus Program, which was heralded by the Washington Post and USA Today as innovative and exigent, provided networked computing stations in every residence hall room, faculty office and administrative office.
In 1997, Northwest also began issuing a personal notebook computer to all of its faculty members and added electronic classrooms with audio and video projection systems. In addition, Northwest upgraded the Electronic Campus by providing a networked personal computer in every residence hall room and all offices.
Campus network connection to the world started at 56kbps in the late seventies to support remote job batch entry computing and was increased to 1.5 mbps in the early nineties to support worldwide email.
The Missouri Research and Educational Network (MOREnet) provided the Electronic Campus with a 20 mbps connection in the late nineties. Currently, MOREnet provides Northwest with a 30 mbps connection to the Internet.
By 2003, a majority of the classroom course content at Northwest was online and web accessible. With the support provided by the Center for Information Technology in Education (CITE) Northwest faculty members have also been able to create a substantial number of quality online courses and online degree programs.
Since its inception, Northwest's Electronic Campus has evolved from an academic system with high capacity communication structures to a complex educational delivery system that has truly become an integral part of the university's daily living and learning experience.