March 19, 2019
Purdue University has begun banning students from accessing streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube in classrooms.
The reason: Burgeoning streaming video and music service use during classes had slowed the school’s Wi-Fi speed to a crawl and was distracting students.
What began as an experiment in the fall expanded across the West Lafayette, Ind., campus March 18 as students returned from spring break.
“There’s a finite amount of bandwidth available,” Mark Sonstein, executive director of IT infrastructure at Purdue, told the Chicago Tribune. “If you have people who are streaming a movie, then they are consuming all of the available bandwidth.”
While many high schools and middle schools routinely collect cellphones from students before classes, Purdue reportedly is one of the first universities to erect a tech barrier.
“I heard about the bandwidth problem, but when the solution was implemented, I heard crickets,” said chemical engineering professor Steve Beaudoin.
Indeed, student reaction to the ban has been scant as most aren’t streaming episodes of “True Detective” or “Game of Thrones” during Chem 101, despite sitting in a lecture hall that seats 100.
Nineteen-year-old computer science sophomore Nick Pappas told the Tribune he doesn’t believe SVOD use in classrooms is as common as school officials contend. But he has seen some students engage – especially if they have wireless earbuds.
“People can get away with it so easily,” he said.
“If the bulk of the students participate, either because they agree with the purpose of the program, or because they aren’t inclined to take the steps necessary to circumvent it, then the purpose — freeing up bandwidth for academics — will be achieved,” Sonstein said.