Published: February 22, 2006
The use of personal computers in educational environments has gone from being beneficial to practically essential. PJC has 2,500 PCs across all the campuses.
In certain areas, such as the visual arts department, personal computers play a very large role in the curriculum. If those computers were to fall beneath the standards of the most contemporary technology, the education of the students could suffer.
In order to prevent this, PJC attempts to refresh its computers as often as possible. Unfortunately due to budget constraints, this refresh plan is not as effective as it could be.
Because of a decline in enrollment, the college has been having some difficulty generating the money necessary to consistently provide its departments with new computers. In fact, to refresh all of the computers every five years it would cost the school about $700,000. Unfortunately, the school has less than a third of that at its disposal.
The problem of deciding which computers must be replaced each year is handled by Liz Gomez, PJC’s director of microcomputer resources. Gomez keeps a spreadsheet of the number of computers in each department and when they were purchased. From there she can prioritize what areas need refreshed based on how old the computers are and whether it is students or faculty using them. Students take priority.
“When the new fiscal year rolls around in July, I would like to be able to replace more student computers across the district,” Gomez said, “but you have to remember there’s also three labs in Milton, about seven labs in Warrington, we have about 1,500 computers that are student-used and about 900 that are faculty and staff.”
In 2005, 60 new personal computers were given to the testing department, which had been using computers about nine years old. The computers were paid for by a separate grant, according to Gomez. This money also provided the computer-aided design lab in Building 15 with 25 new units. Also refreshed was Adult High, which received 25 units, the academic computing center which received 125 units, and CISCO which was given 97. Additional units were also provided for the administration in adult basic education, biology, physical sciences, Adult High, and athletics.
In some departments a refresh seems to be long over due. The library, for example, has some computers that are about eight years old. Mike Whaley, systems librarian for the learning resources center, hopes to see the administration make it’s computers a higher priority.
“I don’t think they’re committed yet to the tech end of it,” Whaley said. “I remember a time when we were ahead.”
The visual arts department is in the midst of assessing new computer needs.
“I think it’s not the proper time to talk about refreshing the computers,” said Spiros Zachos, a professor in the visual arts department. “Right now the administration is making decisions as to how to upgrade hardware in Building 15. And I strongly believe people have to go about their business before you can say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’, or ‘there’s a problem’ ‘there isn’t a problem’, because all the information is just perception.”