By Eric Santucci
Despite economic struggles and budget cuts from the state, the Campus Computing Council and the Educational Tech Unit (ETU) work to bring up-to-date computers and technology across Suffolk campuses.
The computing council convenes every few years to assess current computer technology across campus and determines the best ways to go about replacing them in order to meet certain demands. The ETU is the workforce that installs and upgrades the computers and other technology into the classrooms for educational use.
According to a college contract, the college computing council explicitly adheres to an annual replacement cycle that determines when computers are to be improved and replaced with new technology. Paul Basileo, the coordinator or instructional technology on the Ammerman campus, stated that current economic trends shape how and when computer systems are improved and upgraded by the ETU.
“Computers, projectors and printers have a targeted lifespan of five years. Sometimes a printer may go a little longer, but we try to stick to the 5-year cycle, as it provides best compromise of performance and fiscal responsibility,” Basileo said.
In recent years, the ETU has also worked to install other technology into classrooms to improve the quality of education across the college. Foremost amongst these are the new overheard Epson data projectors found in almost every campus classroom. Steve Ortiz-Rios, the ETU specialist of the Islip Arts building stated that every classroom in the Islip Art building, for example, had been upgraded with the new projector units.
“We were very disappointed with the quality of the Infocus product and decided to look elsewhere. We have realized a huge improvement in color, clarity and durability with the Epson projectors,” Basileo added.
Although computer hardware is generally kept up to par pending each of the five year turnaround periods, some students have expressed distaste in some software inefficiencies.
“In my editing and design class we don’t even have the design program,” said Nicole Brems, a journalism major.
The ETU states that, aside from the basic Microsoft Office programs, software purchases are usually only done in large quantities at specific points in order to adhere to economic demands.
“Software updates are done when necessary. Most of the discipline-specific upgrades are done at the request of the academic departments. We would like to perform those twice a year, asking departments to make the required purchases and have requests ready by May for the following Fall semester and November for the following Spring semester. However, it doesn’t always work according to plan, because software needs can change rapidly. This is largely a function of software that may be packaged with textbooks,” said Basileo.
The individual needs of certain programs and courses on campus are taken into consideration when making upgrades as well. Nina Leonhardt, Associate Dean of Continuing Education and one of the member of the computing council stated that specialized courses such as computer science and others are upgraded when required in order for the educational experience to be optimal.
“Usually after the five year turnaround, computer labs and more important classes are updated first,” said Steve Ortiz-Rios.
The computing council and campus ETU are still in the process of switching over the general computer hardware from Gateways to Dells. Macs are also purchases for special courses.
“We had been a Gateway-heavy institution until the professional end of the company ceased to exist. We have been purchasing Dell computers since that time. At this juncture, I would say we have roughly the same number of each. As I had mentioned in a prior question, we do review our technology purchases periodically and will make changes if doing so is in the best interest of the college,” Basileo said.
The College Computing Council for Suffolk is currently run by chairman and Associate Dean Gary Ris. He can reached at (631)-451-4205.