Three Year Computer Lab Renovation PlanAdopted by Information Technology Advisory Board May 6, 2004
Funding Realities for Student Lab Renovations
Renovation in this cycle depends entirely on SCAP and Technology fees. At the beginning of the last cycle we were fortunate to have a one-time $650,000 allocation from the State. This funding along with the regular SCAP and technology fee allowed us to renovate virtually all computer labs at one time. In addition to replacing grossly outdated computers we were able to deal with ergonomic issues such as lighting, seating, tables, and handicap access. In addition these computers have served well as future hand-me-down computers for the B labs. It is important to note that we do not start this cycle with the same benefit and as a result it will likely be more challenging to maintain the B labs in this three year cycle.
It is also important to note that the 2003/04 SCAP allocation was reduced by 20% ($23,000). It is not clear at this time if this was a one-time (i.e., temporary) or permanent reduction in the SCAP allocation. Time will tell. If full SCAP funding is in place, we should be able to continue to meet the basic needs of each lab.
The number of computer labs continues to grow (slowly). At the beginning of the last renovation cycle the campus serviced 18 computer labs. During the last cycle ITAB approved, but did not fund the Igoe lab. While initially approved as an A lab, the coordinators of this lab have asked that the lab be re-designated as a B lab. We are happy to accommodate this request as we have excess capacity for Macintosh computers.
Also pending approval is the EDP computer lab (B) and there is a potential for two more labs to seek funding approval. It is likely that one lab will withdraw request for renovation. At the end of the 2004/5-year, Residence Life will no longer set up computer labs in the dorms. The reason is that most students are bringing their own personal computers, which are much better than the available B lab computers. This should allow us to provide slightly better B lab computers because we don't have to stretch our resources so thinly. Having said that there are some B lab computers that are inadequate and this is a potential problem that we will have to monitor during the next cycle. (Will the current A lab computers be sufficient for the B labs three years from now?)
Some labs were under funded. While the last funding cycle "worked", it was not without compromises. Three issues come to mind. Certain programs use Macintosh computers because they are industry standard for their programs. We need to continue to provide the platform these programs need to educate their majors. The reality is that Macintosh computers are inherently more expensive than a PC counterpart. In our funding mechanism we inform the lab coordinators of the funds available to them and ask that they make the hard choices of how to purchase what is needed to renovate their lab (hardware and software). While this has worked extremely well because people understand how to live within a budget, there are two notable situations where funding has been deemed inadequate.
Were there purchases that should not have been made?
A hotly debated issue that is always difficult is a discussion of "needs" versus "wants". Does a program need that item or does it just want that item because it sees some extra money that it has available to spend. In the overwhelming majority of cases the coordinators have expended their allocations wisely; we believe that there is little waste. Having said that there are a couple of issues that are questionable.
one lab purchased a couple servers that may be used more by faculty than by students...
one lab purchased peripherals that are nice to have but perhaps other funding sources should be found for these peripherals
one lab may have purchased software that may be nice but is not used.
The total unnecessary expenditure over the three-year period is estimated to be...
While it is possible to purchase cheaper "A" lab computers, we avoid doing so because we know that three years from now that computer will need to be placed in a "B" lab and is expected to last another three years. Purchasing low end "A" lab computers would most certainly result in unusable machines for the B labs.
As we attempt to transition to a mobile computing environment, lab coordinators are encouraged to consider how their labs will change (possibly no need to provide desktop machines, server-based software, etc.) with students bringing mobile devices to class.
While the cost per machine has decreased in some cases, and we have been able to get campus software licensing agreements that save money there have been some increased costs related to the need for programs to expand the number of software packages they use. There are significant one-time software costs associated with Apple's migration to a new and more stable operating system (OS X). This means we need to purchase OS X capable software for both the A and B Macintosh labs.
The campus does not have adequate funds to allow the de novo renovation of every computer lab on a three-year cycle, and so we continue on our A/B cycle. A complete listing of the labs and their computers is given below. We continue to support the A/B lab plan, which has served us well in the past 4 years. Listed below are the current computers available in the existing "A" and "B" labs and a proposal for the next three-year funding cycle.
Inventory of computers/printers in existing labsITAB currently recognizes the following 19 labs as SCAP-funded labs:
Lab/ Main users/ Current computers (updated November 2004)
B. DESIGNATION OF "A" AND "B" LABSComputers are used for a variety of processing purposes that can be arranged along an increasing processor continuum from web browsing, word processing, and spreadsheets to computer programming, video production, and graphic manipulation. After considering the type of processing currently performed in each lab, ITAB recommends that the labs be designated as either "A" (processing-intensive) or "B" (standard program function) labs.
THREE YEAR PLAN FOR LAB RENOVATIONS
Proposed three year cycle
Year 1 (Academic year 2004/05)
Year 2 (Academic year 2005/06)
Year 3 (Academic year 2006/07)
Development of Annual SCAP/ITAB ProposalsThe plan is to start a renovation cycle in November of each year. The goal is to renovate the labs during the following summer period when classes are not in session and human resources are more readily available.
Each November, the coordinators of the labs scheduled for renovation will meet with representatives from the ITAB student lab subcommittee to discuss the guidelines for the proposals, the funding available and exchange ideas for the year. During the proposal development phase, the lab coordinators are expected to work together and consult with ITAB subcommittee to develop a single plan that meets funding targets for the year. The computers slated to move from "A" to "B" labs will be identified early in this process and any necessary upgrades will be identified as part of the annual plan.
The ITAB student lab subcommittee will review the plans and submit a renovation plan to ITAB for consideration and further discussion.
Proposed time line
SCAP (Student Computer Access Program), funded by the state, requires the campus to submit an annual report addressing several issues. Funding is provided only for computers to which students have direct and open access. Please provide narrative statements that speak to the following issues.
ITAB requests a single proposal that addresses the total renovation of all labs targeted in the annual cycle. Coordinators for these labs are expected to work together, the student lab subcommittee, and Information Technology staff to develop a plan that meets the funding goals for the year.
While SCAP funding provides money only for computer hardware and software, Technology fee money may be used to provide access to other items such as peripherals, handicapped access, and furniture. The submitted plan is expected to address all issues that make a computer lab a functional unit. The ITAB lab subcommittee will identify the labs scheduled for renovation and how the existing "A" lab computers are expected to upgrade "B" lab computers.
Coordinators of "A" labs will indicate the software they currently use, upgrades that are necessary, and justify any request for new software. The hardware specs required to operate the most computing-intensive program used in the lab will be identified. It is assumed that a one-for-one swap will be requested for each computer in the lab. Identify the number and type of computer that currently exists in the lab. What is the processor speed and how much RAM is present in the current computers? Identify the specs of machines you are proposing as replacements and justify these requirements. Is it necessary to purchase new monitors for each computer? Are new peripherals necessary (server, printers, scanners, etc) ? Are there any other issues that need to be addressed in your facility?
Coordinators of "B" labs will identify the software they are currently using in their labs, the need for software upgrades, and new software requirements. After analyzing the specs of "A" lab computers to be transferred, the "B" lab coordinators will recommend and justify potential hardware upgrades to these computers. Coordinators of these labs should also identify and justify any replacement peripherals (printers, scanners, servers, etc), and furniture (handicapped access, tables, chairs) that may be necessary to complete the upgrade. The ITAB subcommittee will evaluate the request and provide an estimate of the cost of upgrading the "B" labs.