2003 Survey Report

Information Technology Survey

Preamble

These are the results from the Student Computer Lab Survey completed earlier this semester. Results (available here) are aggregated to preserve the confidentiality of respondents. The original questionnaire is available here. A report addressing common concerns is included. The Information Technology Department will be implementing student suggestions where possible and practical. While support for computing services for students is high at the UofL, it is not limitless, and we strive to make the best decisions for available resources. Some suggestions fall partially or entirely in the jurisdiction of other campus departments. These results have been shared amongst the University’s administration to ensure your comments are heard.

Survey Report

Study Centre:

A common request was for additional computer access after regular lab hours, and possibly in additional locations. Budget and space limitations on campus make additional locations unlikely at this time, however we are looking at adding computers to the Atrium Study Centre while still leaving space for studying.

The Study Centre’s aesthetics was another common concern. We are working with the campus Physical Plant Department to improve the lighting and ventilation in the room. Also, we are looking to mounting the computer systems under the desks to cut down on machine noise and provide additional desk space.

Getting the computers off the desks will also deprive abandoned food a place to hide, another common complaint. Additionally we will be asking for Student help with keeping the space clean and free of food odor by practicing a “Safe Snacks” policy similar to the libraries and reminding students to clean up after themselves.

With respect to concerns regarding inoperable equipment, we have stepped up our monitoring of the space with additional walkthroughs, and will be addressing cabling issues related to having the computers on the carols. Students are asked to help out by reporting any problems by calling the labs at 2131 or emailing help@uleth.ca.

We will also be looking at increasing the software offerings in the Study Centre. Licensing costs are the biggest hurdle here. Some class software will fall under a unlimited campus site in the near future and will be added when those agreements change.

A few final items, we have added a hole punch and stapler to the Study Centre and now have an online option to add money to your print account, available under “Online Tools” at the IT home page (http://www.uleth.ca/it/).

Off Campus Computer Access:

Some respondents felt that the UofL dial-up Internet service was slow, and that the University should offer a high-speed option. The UofL’s Internet service is limited to the speed of plain old telephone system modems. This is much slower than what people will be used to on the campus network. The provision of high speed home Internet requires ownership of a network infrastructure to your house and limits your off-campus high speed options in Lethbridge to Shaw and Telus. In contrast, the University can provide campus residence with high speed internet access because it owns the required infrastructure. The University has no plans to, and really cannot offer off-campus high speed access.

Concerns were raised regarding off campus access to services available on the campus network. In most instances access is available, but the information on how is less accessible. We will be updating the Information Technology page to provide better information on off campus access to Information Technology resources, and have forwarded survey results for the library’s consideration.

Personal Mobile Computing

Access to functional network ports on campus was a concern of laptop users. With respect to the Study Centre, the ports have been checked and all are functional, but the signs indicating which plug-in to use (there are two on each carrel) had mostly been removed. They have since been replaced. With respect to Library, not every carrel is wired. Yellow flags indicate active ports and all library service points have a map showing live connections. Beyond connectivity at podiums, network access in lecture halls is not a priority at this time. Some problems laptop users are having may be related to configuration. Laptop users must register their computers for use on the campus network. There is no fee for this, and registration only needs to happen once.

Some respondents suggested a need for a campus wireless network. The University has been evaluating this option over the past few years and will continue to assess University and marketplace readiness for this new technology. At this point, problems with the security, manageability, interoperability and robustness of wireless technology as well as the relatively low numbers of UofL students with access to wireless capable personal computing devices tells us to wait on this technology.

There was also a request for the University to make personal mobile computing devices available for purchase or borrowing. While the University does open it’s computer rotation purchase up to students, this tender only includes desktop units. The University is working with our computer provider to make custom systems, including laptops, available to students.

The Library does have a number of laptops available for borrowing. These are available through the Media Desk on the 11th floor. Again, these comments have been shared with the library for their planning.

File Storage on Campus

Both the survey and the marketplace suggest that CDRW is the most commonly available solution for storing large quantities of data. Next year, all PC’s in the main labs will be equipped with CDRW drives.

As a lot of students still have and use Zip disks, Zip drives will still be available, albeit in a more limited fashion and likely only for one more year.

Floppy disks were noted as both the most common and least favorite storage media. Lab computers will have floppy disks for the next year, although many computer manufacturers have or are looking to drop floppy disks from their standard configurations.

Many of the comments regarding network drive space showed that we are not providing enough information to students on how to take full advantage of their network drives. As already mentioned, while access of personal network file space from home is available, many students do not know how. Again, we will be updating our web site to make that information more readily available.

Some people would like to see the size of personal network drive space increased. We are looking at different options for increasing quotas and will have a solution in place over the summer.

Online Services

Online registration and access to transcripts were the most requested web services.Expanding on-line services is on the Registrar's Office list of projects. Web registration and web transcripts will be made available to students as soon as it is technically possible.

Students would also like additional online payment options. Students can currently pay tuition over the Internet using their banks online system and looking for the UofL as a vendor. Online payment of parking permits should be available this fall. The University is currently developing an online payment system to allow other departments to more easily provide online payment options.

Others suggested that the Bookstore’s Textfinder system should be made available online. The Bookstore is already looking at how to do this.

Thanks

Thanks again to those who took the time to participate in this years survey.