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Campuses take interactivity to a new level Private colleges using technology to attract students

At Niagara University, students can do library research from their laptops. Communications majors have access to laboratories with computerized Web tools for video editing.

Students can also register online for classes.

Those are some of the ways in which being wired in creative ways - as well as being wireless - is increasingly de rigueur on college campuses, said Harry Gong, Niagara's director of admissions.

"When we're recruiting students, people often ask us about Web site and Internet access. Being a wireless campus seems to be a given when talking to students," Gong said.

Niagara's example is typical among private colleges and universities in Western New York, who all recognize that student-friendly technologies are attractive to a generation that increasingly expects and even demands them.

That's true at Daemen College, where administrators are able to tout a variety of technological offerings.

Using Web conferencing, podcasting and other Internet technologies, it's now possible for students to participate and interact off campus or to access whole lectures, both audio and video for later viewing, said Chris Wilson, Daemen's director of academic computing services.

After a major network upgrade last September, Daemen can also boast high-speed Internet for transferring video and large amounts of data between educational institutions.

Daemen's upcoming media center will have technological bells and whistles, too.

The new technologies also help Daemen be involved in partnerships with other institutions, including a biotechnology and health care consortium with colleges in Ireland, Finland and Germany, as well as Pitzer College in Claremount and New College in Sarasota, Fla.

"A number of these collaborations involving international partners would not be possible without the new technologies. These are also some of the things that make us unique," Wilson said.

Daemen's Web-enhanced courses for full-time nursing students are particularly popular with students living in the Jamestown area, Wilson said.

Like Daemen, the wireless campus of Medaille College will offer a dedicated blog for students beginning in February, according to Tom Burns, assistant vice president.

Another selling point is that resident students receive a free subscription to Napster, allowing them to download music. Commuters can do so for a nominal fee.

Canisius is one of a number of educational institutions that makes available through iTunes a place to store instructional materials, including lectures and videos that can be accessed at any time.

"If a student wants to reference a lecture already given when they're studying, they can do that," said Joel Cohen, associate vice president for library and information services.

Jill Conlon, Canisius' associate vice president for enrollment, said the college is constantly looking to upgrade or add new technologies.

"It's very difficult to stay ahead of students as far as dazzling them, as much as it is to keep up with the world they live in," said Conlon. "More and more, they just expect it."

Like some other area schools, Canisius is upgrading its software program Blackboard, in which faculty and students can communicate, post materials and transmit assignments.

Canisius is also looking to allow students to customize home pages.

"If you want to reach them, if you want to be in their world, you have to do [these sorts of things]," Conlon said.

Applicants are also able to take advantage of new technologies from the get-go at a number of schools, including Niagara.

"They are able to log into an account and check the status of their application, see if anything is missing, read important dates, those sorts of things," said Gong. "It's a virtual orientation."