Students at IU South Bend have probably noticed that the computer lab in Northside Hall has completely vanished. Is it ever coming back?
Not likely, Michael Fletcher, director of Microcomputer and Hardware Support Services, said.
“It’s an ongoing effort to take advantage of the space that already exists,” Fletcher said about the changing computer environment at IUSB. “That’s really one of my goals, like at IU Bloomington. That lab concept has gone away in a lot of places. I want to make it more modern here.”
That modernization will look like more open space computer stations, and less computer labs, Fletcher said. These stations are already active all over campus, with nine currently available in the Northside Hall building.
“NetX stations have the complete STC (Student Technology Centers or Computer Lab) build and are available in all buildings when the buildings are open,” said Paul Sharpe, executive director at the office of the Vice President for Information Technology.
The advantages of these new stations include new technology. Plus you can eat while you work, unlike in a computer lab.
“They have high speed drives in there so they log in much faster,” Fletcher said. “These have not been at full capacity yet, but they are used heavily.”
They plan to add more NetX stations across campus as the need grows. There are new NetX stations under the stairway in the Education and Arts building. Additionally, they would like to add more on the ground floor of Northside Hall, in the lounge area, Fletcher said.
When Sharpe saw students spending time at those old vacant spaces in Northside Hall, he asked them how he could make this better for them, he said.
“We put in technology out there and left two spots open for lap tops for charging stations,” Sharpe said. “We also made sure the wireless connections [in Northside Hall] are improved.”
As people are now bringing their own devices, such as laptops and iPhones to do their homework, many STC stations have been left more vacant than in the past.
“It’s one of the big trends. People bring their own devices now. There’s a lot less need to be in the lab, and more open labs,” said Fletcher.
“We really want to do good things for the students. Technology can be a big influence, if the tech is quality and high performing. It can factor into the decision to go to school here,” said Sharpe.
Students who like the old computer lab setup need not worry. There are still many computer lab locations available on campus.
“Library commons has our main lab stations,” Fletcher said. “We’ve kind of pushed a lot of computer use into that building. We’ve stacked the library full of computers.”
To further the goal of using all of the space at IUSB wisely, the old Northside Hall computer lab is being used as offices for the technology department.