With more than 1,000 PCs open for student use across campus, it can be challenging for students to know when and where the open computers are, leaving them to wander somewhat aimlessly through crowded labs, hoping luck and good timing are on their side. Now in the final weeks of the semester, labs are busier than ever, but thanks to the new online SUU Lab Usage site the Department of Information Technology implemented this semester, your days of wandering have come to an end.
In just one click to labuse.suu.edu, students can see in real time which computer labs and classrooms are open and how many computers are available for use. Though its utility is obvious to anyone who has packed up for a night in the computer lab only to find all the desks are full, the tool should also prove particularly helpful to students who may need immediate access to finalize a project or print a paper as they head into class.
The new site, according to Network Administrator Jim Shakespear, is a new fix to a longstanding problem, created in house after outsourced online queue systems didn’t provide the functionality best suited to SUU-specific usage and challenges. In addition to more efficiently directing students toward available computers, the new tool will help the campus IT department determine current and future computer needs based on both usage and utility, as it monitors which computers require maintenance.
The site also includes enhancements to simplify mobile access.
Campus IT is currently working to develop the tool for use in campus Mac labs as well.
Keeping with the obvious trend, this week has thus far proven to be one of the busiest for campus computer lab usage over the semester. The new lab usage site should help students maximize their time in the crunch of final projects and papers.
While the tool is still evolving, according to Shakespear, it has already proven its worth to both students and the IT department over the past semester, which has begun to gather more solid evidence of usage and student needs. Shakespear said the busiest times of the day are during peak class hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and that Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are busier than Tuesdays and Thursdays. The busiest weeks are within the first month and final two weeks of each semester.
SUU’s new online lab usage tool is built upon a simpler version through open-sourced software from Montclair State University.