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By Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, Student Computing Services Manager
The General Access Computer Lab managers were busy once again this summer during the 'slow season' making the labs better and brighter in anticipation of the fall semester and a new entering class. This summer the majority of the work was done in cleaning, stabilizing systems and making sure everything was up and running in peak condition but some of the labs also undertook large-scale remodeling projects, extensive renewal of staffing, management changes, and hardware and software upgrades.
It should also be noted that the lab managers completed and had printed a significantly updated General Access Lab brochure featuring a color-coded, easy-to-read map of the GAL system and extensive listings of their hours (including new later closing times for many labs). These new brochures along with updated literature about computing security, research and statistical support services, and general student computing services were distributed to over 7,000 new students and their parents this summer and are available to the entire UNT community at all the check-in desks of the computer labs and in our many campus libraries.
The Academic Computing Services Adaptive Lab updated all of its Windows machine 'images' with the latest copies of all the statistical software available for general use on campus. Additionally all stations in this lab have the new JAWS 7.0 screen reading software and MAGic 9.5 screen magnification software. The Tiger Braille Embosser has been sent to Washington for repairs and servicing and the lab is expecting the arrival of a CCTV magnification unit in a few weeks.
The College of Arts and Sciences is undertaking a massive remodeling of the GAB 330 lab which will open again in a few weeks and will house many more computers than previously. This remodeling project will be featured in a future issue of Benchmarks Online. Over the next two months all of the CAS GALs will be getting upgraded computer hardware.
The College of Business Administration installed all new color printers and the School of Library and Information Science has hired as an assistant lab manager, Dr. Josi Reyna. The College of Public Affairs and Community Service lab is now open 24/5 (these hours were featured in last month's Benchmarks Online here.) and has also added more email/web-surfing kiosks in the hallways outside of the lab area. The School of Music, School of Visual Arts, System Center Dallas, Willis 24-hour, and College of Engineering report that they spent the summer improving their existing facilities and services. It should also be noted that both the Willis Library proper and the other two campus libraries (in the ISB and at the Research Park) now have public machines with several popular software applications for use in their areas (also featured in the above-mentioned article).
Finally, the College of Education lab added 4 additional work stations to increase the number of their stations to 87 stations in addition to the four hall stations. They are continuing with the practice (adopted by several other labs) of not retaining student ID's and are experimenting with the requirement that students log into the work station. Two electronic signs were added to remind the student to log out of the station. The other labs are monitoring the results of this experiment to see if it helps to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our lab service overall.
The General Access Computer Lab managers hope that these summer efforts will continue to make our the computer lab user experience a pleasant and productive one. Have a great year!